My Third Life
By: Pragya Dhiman
I come from a world where lizards bathe
in toilet tanks
and turn into salamanders slippery,
like salivating tongues hungry
for their next meal in the dry drought of a sticky heat.
I come from a place
where if you clean the house backwards
you will have a breach baby, a place
where my soul can taste blood and
blood rashes have delicate, thin glass shattering
on open skin, raised.
Here, family shame is deepened under May showers that are Sulphuric.
I inhabit a house gray with a blue roof that lets water
run cool into the street below for the dogs to lap up
but not enough for me to drink. The water is dirty,
the building’s grayness engulfs me to a point where when I
scream, I drown, so now, to keep me safe, I sleep with my eyes open instead.
I’m stuck within this room
bang bang banging my head against the walls, concussing my ill-fated, ill
mind. Tonight, I feel like tying my eyes with gauze, so when I bleed
my eyes would remain free
of the visions that scar, the memories I forgot. Memories
of a boy, a man, a woman, old and young kids whose faces I’ve lost
save their harshness that I hold close to my heart
to remember that I can never, ever let myself fall apart.
I sleep on a bed of nails with tiny ants crawling behind my skin
red, so red that my strawberry legs tingle with life;
nineteen-ninety-nine is when I was last alive and now
I’m nothing but modelled wood, crying to be understood.
But I keep quiet. I’m quiet because
I live in a body that holds the truths of
the places I’ve been, it’s the amalgamated flesh
of generations – the pains, the wrongs, the hurt, the tears,
the cuts, the fights, the screams, the shouts, the torture,
seared flesh, the nailed hands burnt to ash, alongside the glories,
the dreams, the talks, the smiles, the stories, the need to be around,
the suffering survived with laughter abound, this body
has been places you only read about.
I may be carved stone, but at least I’m trying to speak now.