• Shreya Teresita

For Virginia Woolf

My ankles are still sore from your fur-lined cuffs

Now stranded on the shore to be lost

Maybe you’ll find them, maybe you wouldn’t care

Maybe I’ll have second thoughts.

But for now, I tread into the river

I scratch the surface and fail to understand

The tides kiss me and lull in promise

It won’t hurt, it won’t hurt for long.

I had sworn some day I’d learn to swim

But they cut off my hands, put stones in my fleece

I still tried. I built myself wings, remember?

Then you said the stars were too good for me.

Little by little, I learned to drown

I learned to howl into my pillow

But in the river, I can cry a sea

It won’t hurt, it won’t hurt to go.

For now, I have the tides at my throat

And I wonder if the shore is too far away

I could go that way, or I could just spiral down

Like a chewed piece of bone spat into the drain.

Underneath my dress, the stories ripple

In my dreams, I walk on water

Like fingers on sand, I write on my skin

It won’t hurt, it won’t hurt when it’s over.

I am me. I’m the river, I’m the tides

I’m the undertow that’s wild and tired

My soul is water, my bones — the salt

I could decay, I could disappear.

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