when i was five years old, i had a loose tooth.
i pulled it out, my fingers shaking, mouth filling up with blood.
i could barely see the baby tooth peeping out of all the blood and pulp
it felt right.
when i was older, i went to a dentist. she pulled
it out swiftly but gently, soothed it with cotton gauze.
and she asked me something important—
do you want to keep it?
i said yes.
she gave me a plastic capsule and i kept my tooth in it.
tiny thing, rootless
if i had a moment to myself in this fleeting world, it would be
the tease of tonguing at a loose tooth. the fear of pulling it out
and the relief, the gum, the baby tooth and
everything everything everything i was as a young girl.
if i had a moment to myself, it would be poolside,
swimming under the night sky, the isolation,
the stars and water
flowing over my outstretched hands.
if i had a moment to myself, it would be alone,
my bicycle and the gentle rumble of the trains moving by.
the tracks and the shake of the earth.
me on my knees and the moss
and feeling like i’ve been cheated out of everything.
i don’t have coherency these days.
i just have books i haven’t read in three years,
my heart feeling like a
freshly squeezed kumquat (do people even know those).
strings and strings.
i keep everything i ever remember backed up on this 500GB hard drive.
it’s never been enough honestly.
i’m raw and i say that all the time, but i always mean it.
i’m raw as bitter neem twigs, as unripe mango, like pineapples.
i feel like tunnel vision. i feel like grabbing words
by their shoulders and
beating them into submission, so they'd say what i mean,
so they'd tell other people how wrong i am, everywhere.
so they promise me a backbone,
promise me scaffolding, a brace, all metal and steel.
even in the afternoon daze, i feel alone. blazing bright suns but nothing
nothing stays. i’m grasping at straws.
if i look into the mirror i don't see myself.
i see red and the visible silhouette
of ache and loss.
what do you want?
is it my black heart, shrivelled and love-guzzling.
or is it my tongue, too sharp for the cold morning.
you never make a sound,
i can’t tell when you sink your fingernails into the rungs of my ribs.
the earth is too cruel. she snaps at my ankles and i let her.
maybe i shouldn't dwell on the loneliness shrouding herself around my
shoulders, squeezing my eyes shut but it's hard
not to when it pressed at
all the gaps in me. all i taste is the rush of faint ringing
in this bright room,
the sun illuminating how wrong i feel all the time.
razamand, i wear sanata over me like a coat.
but i’m flotsam. i’m the sound of calling out into an open field and
hearing back your lonely voice in return.
i’m the sound of waves cresting
over rock formations, of earth shifting.
the sound of white noise when you
switch to that one channel on cable.
i’m still rootless, after all these years.
i can feel my wisdom teeth
right under the surface, stupid sharp, painfully sharp. mean.
i can feel them cutting into gums, hard right under the thin skin.
maybe i’ll have to pull them loose, torrid and sweltering,
malevolent and bloody.
maybe i won’t. maybe they’ll still, and i’ll be still.
kadva— bitter (hindi)
razamand— will, agreement, consent (urdu)
sanata— calm, tranquil silence, stillness (urdu/hindi)
is a 17 year old student and occasional poet. Vaish has been writing poetry for nearly 4 years now, and infrequently dabbles in prose. She loves analyzing poetry and appreciating others' works. Vaish usually is found taking photos of the skyline or jotting poetry down on her Notes app. Her poetry collection, Teeth and Bone, debuted this month.