what woeful tale do i sing, when i have known no woe? don’t sing any, she says. what apologies do i write a ballad in honour of? why apologize, she says. what lament do i serenade for boys i never want? me neither, she says. what tears do i spit of nightmares i never incurred? would you like some orange juice, she says. what dreams do i break to understand what broken dreams pinch like? want to learn how to make kittens, she says. i like kittens, I told her. what wisdom should i ask for? I’ll learn the violin, she says. i don’t battles. sometimes, i am one. i have been fortunate enough. i can’t write a misery i never had. i can’t cry tears that are not mine. i can’t kiss the girl, and i was told not to. i can’t really paint myself white. i can’t paint myself ivory. so i decided i don’t like paint. i am paper. brown. sometimes. i am more brown than paper. sometimes, the paper in my skin lends me paper cuts. sometimes, when my finger hurts, only my finger hurts. i can’t paint a tiger on my body, when a turtle lives inside my eyes. i can’t ask for a rabbit, when i keep snakes under the bed. i can’t play the piano, when all i own is a guitar. i can’t sing, because the only songs i know were written for him. i don’t know him, like i know her. i can’t because i don’t know ‘can. i think i threw the last one, i was told it as empty. sometimes, i just lock myself inside, and look at the girl. have you seen the girl from the other side of the window, i imagine our hands together. the way otters hold their hands, so maybe we wouldn’t get lost. when the sun goes down. i can’t tell myself i won’t get lost when i have lost my way around. maybe i would write about this in my diary. but i still don’t know that i am lost. sometimes i learn how to walk again. when my hand is her hand, our hands are beautiful. my hand does not know what colours look like. sometimes i imagine a rainbow in her palms. the heart line is blue. it runs against the head line. sometimes i can’t see the heart line in my hand. but i know where it is when i hold a finger inside my fist the size of my heart. her fist. sometimes i don’t fear getting lost when the sun goes down. i fear getting lost when the sun comes up. and i’m still not home for breakfast. i don’t even like breakfast, she says. we are a lot same, she says.
—tanya singh, 17
Tanya Singh is interested in all things poetry, and philosophy. Their work has appeared, or is forthcoming in The Slag Review, Literary Orphans, 82 Star Review, The Black Napkin Press, among others. They live in India.