by Anoushka Subbaiah
In the fourth hour of downpour
the ants begin to lose
their wings – frail, paper-thin scraps
of tulle coming undone. They unspool
into copper-plated bodies,
new-born in their wet nakedness.
I think they want me to know
that they’re alive.
Still twisting, still fighting.
Sometimes I am merciful
and squish them into silence,
but mostly I just watch.
In this misshapen kingdom, we’re all guilty
of mistaking agony for dance.
But here is the only ritual that matters:
half a girl, God and seasonal decay seeping
through hand-me-down jeans
as she wades in the rupture
of an entire generation. What comes after
is the bitter sun and seethes of crows,
wallowing in the trembling rot
the way children play in water.
They croon to me that death is a feast,
a kind of loosening.
That I should be glad.
Without being told, my fingers dig
into an old wound. Someone drives a sickle
down the yellow milky flesh of jackfruit.
A voice yells at me to stop
fooling around in the courtyard
and come inside.