The Art Of Drowning

The Art Of Drowning

I

This tongue swells up halfway
through stories,
and my teeth chatter in understanding.
You can choke on words
until they drown in your lungs.

I want to tell you I love you,
that the museum in my throat
makes space for broken things.
I want to make you a home
in the warmth
of yarns
stuck between my teeth,
but this mouth is an unmarked
archaeological disaster site. Leave.

She would have left
but blue lingers
like the inevitability of a broken promise.
Drowned girls are only desirable
in your obscene whiskey dreams.

Pour me kerosene. Understand
that I’m knitting
my life around my mother’s,
and it almost feels like O Henry wrote us.
Blue lingers like love never could.

II

They pulled her out of rivers
her amma worshipped.

Understand I’m more parts than person
on days I pour my lungs into sustenance.

They pulled her out of rivers
her father put her in.

I would have been drowned
a thousand times over.

My tongue remembers.
My mouth blisters from this heat
of all the flames
they snuffed out on the wetness of her thighs.
The marks have scarred on mine.

You can do away
with bravely scared girls
but not their fables.

This tongue knows more than I do,
and it is heavier with every word
I should not utter.
So I mark the disaster mine,
and I stay after
the museum is a mausoleum,
and my home is a house.
Blue lingers after you leave.

Dead girls
can change shapes of the tides
with swollen bastards.

III

Amma later recites her childhood.
She loved her pink dupatta.
She loved papad.
She was always good at hide and seek,
and her father would always find her.

Follow the papad crumbs to a certainty.
Someone is looking for you.

The house is filled with idols, and
you take down a dream.
Make the ocean your ashtray.
Press a pregnant girl against the tides,
and hope skulls erode
in hands of loving fathers.

I am not strong enough to move the words.

Fables are past people didn’t bother
the semantics with,
and we call pray of a will o’ the wisp
but this heart beats too fast.

I wonder if she packed her pink dupatta.
I wonder if they burned her in it.
I wonder if she was
harder to burn with the water inside,
or if amma laid her out with papad to dry.

I move the tongue
that cuts the roof of my mouth
because there are words
she didn’t get to say,
and I am a generation too late.
Or three.

IV

You replace the fire
with her burning lungs,
and I know I have to breathe.

Even drowned girls catch fire.

Their mothers weep in the dark
so the good gods don’t know.

You’re not a mother for birthing a sin
even if the sin
skips a generation.

We’re all a kiss away
from losing her.
So kiss.

V

I have, in me, the rivers that drown,
and my mouth is a hot and ruthless place.
The memories singe
against the pallette.
My words evaporate into both faces
of the world.

Her father looks at the memories
she carved with her willingness
to sing dough into a man.

You can die of love.
Love someone.

VI

Her father drowned her
with hands
that braided her hair
into a crooked mess.
She liked his brokenness the best.
That is how you know it’s real, I suppose.
You are breakable.
You can love someone
and still kill them.

You are flammable even if
you wash up on your father’s love.
Love someone.

VII

Your mother
tells your father
you haven’t bled.
He loves you too much
to make you bleed.

Can you sing time into lapsing?
Take my tongue that knows too much
and swallow it in your mouth.
Tell me my love sometimes tastes like drowning,
and I will tell you
I am with her
but our loneliness is infinite.