My eyes have eyes and their eyes follow me everywhere.
My shadow has a shadow, no matter how small and green.
I have never been afraid to slip into the
crowd inside a crowd, lose myself in between the teeming
rush of people’s coats. To teeter on the edge of a platform
to a platform just to feel the beginnings of
remorse. All of us exist just to blink and disappear;
I bump my head into every fire extinguisher on the walk home,
leaving them all dented and desolate. What safety do I need?
For the alarms to blare before I get home telling me to lie down
on the streets and gaze upwards at the cityscape. To find
meaning inside meaning for every leaking shadow I have seen.
Sometimes, fact is that I have drowned. My boat
hit the bedrock and I jumped into the water to push it
when I knew I couldn’t swim, trusting rescue by a false
god. Let me tell you– there is no royalty on
the ocean floor. All the exhausted fish tangle into
a ball and plunge themselves into the fishers’ nets.
I too am withering away. My skin isn’t the kind that
lasts, and soon enough salt water ignites my blood.
I’m a wildfire, emptied on the ocean floor. The sea has
always been craving for a touch of something real.
Other times, I hotwire countries in my mind, birthmark cities.
That one lamppost which gave me a horseshoe scar on my
knee, the stone which held me as the sea doused my tears.
That one point on the highway where the Queen’s Necklace is
a perfect embrace of pearls.
I’ve always said that I want a piece of jewelry like that,
a gesture big enough to crown an entire city. My mother says,
send that lantern into the sky, and when it lies to become a
star, you can say it’s named after you. That’s galactic fame,
She says, come sit with me, let’s slide down the dragon’s
tongue into a secret playground, where no one
touches you without asking first. Beautiful people always
die before anyone else, but you don’t have to go anywhere yet.
There’s still so much I need to say. Besides, you’ll turn 18
tomorrow, and haven’t we made it this far unscathed?
We’ll be fine. You’ll be fine. We have all the time.
Dhwanee Goyal is sixteen and getting through life one donut at a time. The editor-in-chief of Indigo Literary Journal, her work appears or is forthcoming in Barrelhouse, Foglifter Journal, Variant Literature, and more. Find her on Twitter @pparallel, or at dhwaneegoyal.weebly.com.