Divyasri Krishnan

Girl as an animal of regret

In a perfect world I occupy no space.

My gardens are spotless. The sky

bears no bruises. When I open

my mouth it is light spinning through

a glass bottle. It is empty in a foreign house

that loves me. From its mouth are flowers.

On the other side of the world my grand-

mother strings together jasmine bodies

that look like eyes. She is no longer blind.

When we speak to each other we need no

conduit, and our throats shiver in kind. In this

world I thread baleen needles through an

albatross’s throat and hang it on another

neck. It is the weight of two languages.

Here, when I lift my arms, I am an albatross,

unpinioned—weighing of one. From my

mouth sprout flowers. My grandmother

and I spoon soil between each other’s teeth;

it settles like language on our tongues. In a

perfect world I do not carry a generation’s

regret. I do not even carry my own.

yama (or, upon consideration of savitri)

& so savitri followed the lonely god of death, intent upon retrieving her husband’s life.

i grew a ghost

one night, without realizing—

a man had died

regretfully (though he had been

expecting it) & as i moved away

she followed, not two steps behind,

mouthless, soundless, unrepentant.

solemn, in ceremony, i sliced her

a part of the flesh, gleaming

wetly in the night.

in another life she had been robed

in saturn, that is, ringed,

circled gently by two palms,

(this i knew for i had married her,

as all creatures are married to death)

& loved by extension, where

every wrist kissed another

upturned; & as if in error

she had smiled. once—no longer.

now we walked with shivering faces

&, at intervals, watched for the dogs.

in the end i lingered too long

& heard the ringing against her skin;

& like a sin she stole up behind me

(the ghost a more impious shadow,

longing to be free)—now

she had a hold on me

& wanted it back. now

she had an anguish,

a remembrance of warmth

& wanted it back.

o, she, the sun divine—

what could i do but give it to her?

by the river—my ghost

had a body waiting for her.

my ghost had lies for this

& bloomed a mouth to speak them

so i, death, grew a heart,

& listened.

Divyasri Krishnan's poems have been published in Muzzle Magazine, Third Point Press, Rust + Moth, and elsewhere. She has been recognized by Palette Poetry, the Adroit Journal, the National YoungArts Foundation, the National Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, and the Poetry Society of the UK. In 2020, She was a Pushcart Prize nominee and a Best of the Net finalist.

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