debuted in pieces, in between handwritten curses

and crimes: chasing heuristic whiffs

of informal linguistic forms

Made to make

empty pages from used paper, from

overcrowded printspace on unpaid bills

Writing over crowded post-it notes;

like white creases etched

on bare skin going draught-dry.

She pronounced compressions and palm-lines

A rugged work of contemplation;

Beneath the sides and under the curves

She preached from the tips of my left-hand:

sacred taper icicles carved from cold flesh.

She, blurred the names from this personal essay,

But spat out lives since past

Posting inverted internal verities

They were just states of rampage,

of anticipatory apprehension,

behind a smile; Of natural anaesthesia

from winter-weather, Of heatstroke

from winter-weathering

Felt like a live-wire

pouring from my hands onto paper;

The will, the testaments

of a woman unkept by self-conflict.

Before I could stop her

She was December, awaiting arrival

of an undoing, a final wreckage;

the ghost of a past hugging back

She was no man’s land.

Now, imprinted on my palmscape

pressing away on paper, spitting

reflections of my own mettle,

a palimpsestuousity refined

Stirring once, the imagination of a forgotten scholar;

As I felt the creases clock and swivel

through a morning news papercut.

Was a palmspring bleeding red

on cheap newspaper

Crimsoned NEWSFLASH! on the front page

It was a missing person’s case,

A manifesto to catch the public enemy,

An arrest warrant, unwarranted by crime;

It was a public outrage outage

Fallacy conducting itself inside us:

Must be the truth if they said it was

It was a community search party of dogs and hounds

for a woman who drank the sea empty

Because they thought how dare she?

So what if she cried in secret for 24 years,

Stake in hand, hand at heart;

So what if she evaporated

in a feud-fire outside her bedchamber

consumed herself away

So what if she was tired

of being prisoner to shame in her mind

So what if she used to be the girl I once was, before

the woman who drank the sea was a fugitive

They don’t tell you this in ugly print:

that she lunged face-first and drank the sea in mercy

The act itself was a speculative withdrawal

from social expectation, from the sea that was

a repository of monster blood.

It reeked of good intensions gone foul;

The sea that was made

from a once utilitarian urgency

Its empty floorbed now boasts an ocean

of salt dunes and deserted bone-shards

Morbid chandeliers planted upside down

It’s a graveyard of people

who died trying to drink the sea before me;

my ancestors by cause and action

featherstitched on my gravestone

the woman who drank the sea empty

Ritiksha Sharma is based in India and holds a Master of Arts in History from the University of Delhi. She is interested in noir, cemeteries, and piano music. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Indian Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, Chrome Baby, Penumbric, The Collidescope and Illustrated Worlds Magazine.