Poem to read in the shower
This is an undoing and a coming together. The day lies
discarded in the foam that gathers around my feet:
I walked home with a flower in my hair, the janitor asked
how I was as usual. The shower roars with its metal head,
the message from granddad: millions of happy birthdays
the metro ride I took alone with friends
All falls down, mixed with floods of discount shampoo;
coconut scented like a sweltering Sunday afternoon at home.
There are waterfalls on rocky cliffs and collarbones. Even in
February my umber hair drips with the monsoons; loud & muddy,
fanning open like peacocks. Why don’t they sell this perfume
at the BodyShop? I’d douse the frosty tiles with it.
Bubbles swallow my body like rainbow grief, I sing a doleful song:
Jashn-e-Bahara in the shower, then Justin Bieber. Stokie asked
about my soft hands; I said I pour lavender soap onto my skin
like an anti-imperial queen. Continents crumble into the drain
as clouds settle on a dusty mirror. I write a message to me (it’s okay).
Through the misty words I see sunlit slivers of myself, wincing
at my own nakedness. The pinstriped towel awaits like a shield.
But water travels far, and I can suddenly taste your tinny mouth,
like that cigarette you handed me on a rickety porch. I gave it back,
since I didn’t want it anymore (by it I mean you obviously).
Even then your river of smoke comes creeping under the door,
uninvited. I can only scrub harder for the next three years.
Urvi Kumbhat: "I shuttle between Kolkata, India, and the University of Chicago, where I am studying for an undergraduate degree in English Language and Literature. I work as an editor at The Chicago Maroon, and have had work published in Blacklight Magazine, The Rising Phoenix Review, and Vagabond City. I can usually be found consuming copious amounts of caffeine, sorting my 25 Pinterest boards, and binge-watching Gilmore Girls, again."