Photo by Emily Sorensen

by Shikhandin


We lived out
our lives in each
other’s breaths
and the spaces
we folded up to keep
aside, just so we could
have more mobility
even when we did not
imagine the bending
of the walls and
the laying of the floors
on our forest beds and
river banks of soft slumber
so that when we lay
in trust
and we lay really still
with our lives strung
up before us
we lived in the custody
of each
other’s memory



A bird came and pecked
your words away. The wind played
his game. The trees, smiling sideways, as if
they knew beforehand, looked on. What
remained were half sentences,
shuffling like unfulfilled promises. Ambiguous,
unintended meanings in
the gaps of words. Secrets
spilling out from the corners of verbs.

Undeterred I gathered them up. Looping
strings around the bellies of words,
fat with the remnants
of scrawled out thoughts.
The curls of letters went numb
with outrage. But I had never left you.
I know it is too late to make amends.
I think of that childish thing
we used to do with our little pen knives,
so cruel to the trees. Perhaps that is why
they watched and did nothing.

Who was that bird? Where had it come from?
And when? Where did it go
afterwards? When the sun arose,
it was already done. Over.

You are silent. I am clumsy. We are both old.
Our hearts grope beneath the mulch,
tender and blind. Perhaps, one day
the husks of our desires will be fodder
and burn brightly, not hiss like damp wood.
And, underneath the stars new words will part
from lips the way the wind parts sheaves of corn.
The ashes will flutter with glints of fire,
and the leaves will descend, swiftly and softly
to the ground. New love will sprout
from the seeds spilled out
from our dried-up hearts. Forgiveness will rise
like gentle vines along the barks of our trees.


About the photographer: Emily Sorensen is a DFA Candidate at the Yale School of Drama, where she earned an MFA in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism. When not in zoom classrooms, she likes to go outside and take pictures of pretty things. Mostly trees.