by Anusikha Halder
Anusikha Halder is currently a senior at Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, California. When she doesn't have her nose buried in a book, or a bucket of popcorn at the movies, you can find her acting, volunteering, playing piano, and writing — though not all at once. She particularly loves a good free verse poem, and exploring themes of adolescence and mental health in her writing. Anusikha has attended the Kenyon Young Writers writing program, and received a Silver Key award for the 2019 Scholastic Writing and Art Awards. She continues to write and edit for her school's literary magazine, La Pluma.
As butterflies are to human
Bodies where do
Caterpillars fit into the analogy?
Dolefully, they ascend milkweed and
Even the treacherous world, only to
Finally cocoon themselves into complacency
Gestating, waiting to be born again
Hoping to emerge from darkness
Into brilliance: a phoenix from the ashes
Just what do humans do?
Kill their darlings and their younger selves
Let themselves be cocooned by others and their expectations
Maybe some become butterflies but
Now too many clip their wings
Open to no-one, especially themselves.
Persisting, but not flying
Quietly resigned to fall down to milkweed
Resting in the swaddle of sheets and
Solemn tears, bobbing heads
Tucked tightly into themselves
Understanding only too late how
Vile the life-cycle is, how
Wrong, how backwards
X-ray a butterfly and you will find a brain bigger than you imagined
You x-ray a human and you’ll find a heart
Zipped up beneath a rib-cage, bruised, sometimes broken.
Jamais Vu: a sense of eeriness and the observer's impression of seeing the situation for the first time, despite rationally knowing that he or she has been in the situation before.
We’ve crossed paths before, intersecting even
Fumbling in our missteps as we try to walk around each other
Sometimes we try to walk through each other
Invisible, or ghostly under the shade of an ash tree
But this time it feels like a first dance in this garden
Your arms are in first position, reaching out to me
And then abruptly you close them to pick up a shovel
I have never seen you with your hair up
Or maybe I have but I swear your hair usually falls down your
Face like a curtain onto a stage
This time the show is not over
I sit in the mezzanine and watch
Your smile and the way your eyes roll and how
Your mouth crinkles when you tell a joke
I miss because I’m too busy reading your lips
And committing your collarbone to memory.
We plant tomatoes and spinach in beds of soil in silence
Side by side but I spend most of my time
Staring at my feet
Because somehow the afternoon light has changed your face
And I am sure all you see are the shadows cast on mine.