A Constellation of Bruises
today, my mother teaches me – to arrange my bruises along the landmass of my limbs, and to let them twinkle like stars that tenderly kiss, the flame of autumn she teaches me – to put a bruise on my earlobe and one between my fingers just so that my bruises look like jewels she teaches me – to shove the uglier bruises under a bra-strap or a dress-hem as I sort, select, shuffle between which bruises to show which bruises to hide today, my mother teaches me – to fold a wince into a smile, and the art of swallowing a sob, and when my throat gets all salty, afterward she says, the tanginess will soon abate and finally, as she whispers farewell into the folds of my wedding veil the wavering threads of her whimper entangled with the silk she leaves me, a stargazer – to this constellation of bruises
The Anatomy of Pain
you begin by teaching me – about wafer-thin bones and agonized nerves that have turned so blue, it hurts to only look at them, and then you show me hearts which have been frozen, stocked-up caked with a sugary-silvery crust of emotion, and brains encompassed in a bubble, a jelly-like blob of entangled, entwined, confused thought you continue by teaching me – about skulls, and you show me the splintered skull of a newborn patterned with bullet-holes picked from the greyness and dustiness which is, as they say ‘the legacy of war’ thereafter, we pass through the spirals of patience, that branch into resilience and courage, coated with a cloak of dust, that falters on the quivering shoulders of these paths and covers the palms and bruises the knees of those, who can no longer sit atop cold, metal chairs and bend and bow their eyes dripping with tears their lips dripping with prayer on white bedsheet or, at times, tucked into their folds I find ailing pauses, picked from that uncertain valley between life and death, most gasping and some reaching out, plucking bits of breath molding it into thin strips, placing it between clenched teeth, and beneath shriveled tongues, while others chose to let life slide onto the carvings on their palm and slowly, but surely it skids away and in the whimpering hues – of the dewy, yellow light with white and grey fingertips tied together with this tumor-like tightrope I decipher the anatomy of pain
Praniti Gulyani lives in India.