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Girl

 

 
 
a golden shovel feat. Faulkner’s Dewey Dell

 

In the night last night upside down I
woke to dream half dream had
eaten steak before bed & a
woke w/ a beef-induced nightmare.

 

Again I roamed the cellar, where once
an ear grew on the back of a lab rat. This is true, I
must explain, disconnected from thought,
a human ear fully functional, I

 

mean there was no meaning was
syncopating syllables or language awake
in the breakdown of sound, but
for stutter the halted staccato dictated I

 

must move faster, but couldn’t.
This was not a metaphor for loneliness. See,
I have trouble shedding lives &

 

was raised to be polite. My legs couldn’t
run w/ the speed of rivers or feel
the sides of mountains pulling as I
stumbled. Sidewalk slabs couldn’t

 

demarcate my breath & its his breath I feel
on my neck, baby hairs asleep on my legs oh the
softness. When a prickled bed is not a place of rest: search hard under

 

this narrative: a viable six year old me
w/my after school family, pawned house to house &
after school gramps groans in his rocker: no I
don’t want to sit on your lap. A girl couldn’t

 

be raised in a family of men, sky a darker tinge, think
mama: where do you bury rage & what
are you tired? You said, This is the world we live in. I

 

retreat to my room, build forts, was
innocent in light reversed through Big Bird curtains & I
felt safe again beneath spread cotton. I couldn’t
make sense of the mirrored room of love, think

 

half feral, half divine, no lawn but tumultuous river of
hanging vines, redundant flower seller poling left/right, my
god, are these candles set in bowls or their reflections on water? Name
the heavy machines men make to smooth things. I

 

forgot the trot is a pace not a dance. Couldn’t
clog walkers slip on umbrella puddles? Even
if the story leads to where the path crumbles, I think
this means I am multitudinous I am luminous I

 

reach through volumes to touch child of sidewalk grime, am
there somersault vaulting a metal pole meant as handrail, a
knot I might untangle if I can trace where the beginning is, girl.

 

ELLEN KOMBIYIL is the author of Histories of the Future Perfect (2015). She is a recent transplant from Bangalore, India, where she lived for nearly eleven years, teaching creative writing and yoga. A fellow at the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program in 2013, Kombiyil’s poetry and fiction have appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, BOOTH, Spillway, and Poemeleon, among others. She is a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, a Best of the Net nominee, and has read, performed or taught workshops at the annual Prakriti Poetry festival in Chennai, the Raedleaf Poetry Awards in Hyderabad, and Lekhana in Bangalore. She is the co-Founder of The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective, a mentorship-model poetry press, publishing innovative voices from India/Indian diaspora. Originally from Syracuse, New York, and a graduate of the University of Chicago, she now lives in New York City with her husband and two children.