Volume One, Issue 4

Safe and Sound(less)

Shefali Banerji

Stay safe…
Stay safe – two words echo in my ears
each morning as I step out of the house I
unlovingly call home –
S-t-a-y s-a-f-e :
They trail behind me, each letter
trying to keep up with my urgent pace
trying to cocoon me, they barge into my personal space,
suffocate me
until they leap upon my shoulder
and slide into my satchel,
riverine sliding against hardened rocks
only to end up in an enormous mix of one of its kind

My bag is a hub of safe things.
There are safety pins on guard – those ancient soldiers
who protected Belinda
as Alexander Pope would have you believe
and the tiny blade
that cuts sharper than your words.
There is the tazor that wishes to thaw a foreign hand
and the pepper spray who is my doppelganger,
she knows as well as I do
that s-t-a-y s-a-f-e is an instruction harder to follow
than staying alive
she knows the ineffectuality of her existence as I know mine.
She cannot protect me from earthquake, hurricanes, accidents,
pointed sharp things
I know I can’t escape them either

‘Stay safe’ dies in my satchel
as I look through the stalls in a public bathroom
to find an empty spot
in this insufferable madness
of the morning crowd.
Why do they all have to pee at once?
Why is solitude overpriced?

Locking myself into this four by four safe haven
I know I finally have something I can call my own
something you cannot take away from me

the safety pins sigh
the tazor surrenders
the pepper spray knew it all along
they mourn the demise of the two syllables
the blade’s assigned duty has been altered
rosy droplets slide over the rough edges of skin
to meet the darkened pool on the floor


GO! Fly away
F-l-y a-w-a-y to the sweet release,

the prison house has been broken

Shefali Banerji: "I am a poet, writer and spoken word artist from India. I graduated with an Honours degree in English from St. Xavier's College Calcutta, and am currently pursuing a Master's degree in English from the University of Calcutta."

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