Nuptial Flight

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.


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