by Laleh Gupta
Laleh Gupta is studying English and History at college and contemplating a double major. In their free time you can find them nibbling on tasty Indian sweets or thinking about old architecture.
Feeling Brand New in the Grocery Store
The shirt you are wearing billowing
like a dream or patch-work—tell me how
you palmed down the sides of my building
looking for places to hide, and when I asked, Do you ever hunger,
you shrugged and pulled out the neighborhood grocery store
from your pocket. It was folded into a square.
When you yanked out the legs of the rabbits
we captured during the starving winters, the smell
of something living leaking down the floor
was inescapable. We were dressed for a funeral
when we feasted.
But all that and still the ache for warm
soup, pleated hands, clothes untouched by accusing fingers.
For the floor to be a firecracker against bare feet.
Maybe we’ll get the ladder and lick
the blood out of the ceiling fan, and maybe the red will ruin
your good shirt and it will be okay. We will toast
to our second-ago selves like, God bless those idiots!
And I’ll go to the bathroom and dance with the confetti.
Forget excellence. Forget the reason we’re all here,
which is that everyone is tired and grieving, yet…
The shirt I am wearing is billowing like a dream:
me warden inside nightscapes. Me lone survivor underneath
the blood on the linoleum. Me torturer of good things
in the butcher’s shop. According to the clocks,
it’s our last year;
so I confess: sometimes I get hummingbird-still. Which means
that I can love, somehow, despite being the horror stuff
of nightmares. I can look at the turn-tables of the merry-go-rounds
and not see something broken. That I can forget
the want to twist myself into new shapes like putty.
In a second,
I blow into my hand and the rabbit regurgitates
(an unbecoming of dialogue),
the building seals itself shut. Hello, I say to my house, empty
as ever, and there is no reply.