Emptiness encased in skies that
flutter like fleeting fissures of light
through crystal, piercing
into me

I told myself that cities are built
of bricks and stone and concrete poured
into holes in the earth, ugly
forms of symmetry painted over
and over and over and over again until
our eyes can glimpse at its surfaces,
until our heads can bear
not to turn away

They told me that cities are built
out of human hands, fingers slipping
over cement and dust, crumbling air
into semblance; but cities
are built of things more human
than the skin and bones of our
they are breathing they are pulsing they are alive
like the voices that lay buried underneath

Cities are built of histories, unraveled and
unwritten, covered
in dirt and dust and the smears
of the footsteps that tremble as they walk,
they are built
of stories that spill onto the streets, bringing
strangers to their knees

They told me that cities are built
out of human hands, but the weakness
in my bones has told me differently


Umang Kalra is an Indian poet and a student of History at Trinity College, Dublin. Her work has appeared in Tn2 Magazine, Coldnoon, The Rising Phoenix Review, Porridge Magazine, VAYAVYA, and others. She has previously worked with Inklette Magazine, and is currently involved in a year long mentorship programme for women of colour in Ireland, under the bilingual poet Doireann Ni Ghriofa.