2 poems by Meenakshi Nair

Art by Sergio Ceccotti

Things I Should Have Done When I Lived Alone

Slept naked through the night but

fire alarms in the dark and

the potential disaster of

groggy facetime calls

and skin crawling under

a second-hand duvet, and

tummy particularly pouch-like

Not called home a couple of days but

is Muttachan still alive and

are we sure this dal looks right

and look Amma, I can do this I’m

independent now, and broo, how do I

argue this, avoid them, attend that

Had someone over, but as usual there’s

no butterfly belly or sweaty palms

and I’m swiping right into being a

fish out of water, and turns out

I’m better at being a ghost anyway

Picked a direction and walked but

deadline dead ahead and

sunless sky and heatless air

and sometimes solitude


A Balcony, Calcutta

It is the 1960s and Achan is a little boy in Calcutta and

Achamma is in the balcony, leaning against the railing.

She sucks on mangoes and flings the fuzzy oval seeds

across their narrow street. In the distance, the thwack of

clothes being beaten clean against stone.

It is the 2000s and I am a little girl in Calcutta and

Achamma is in the balcony, leaning against the railing.

She waves from up above as we unload the luggage,

soaked through in pre-monsoon sweat. In the distance,


It is the 2010s and I am a young woman in Calcutta and

Achamma has not been at the balcony for years.

Achan stares up at the house, perhaps willing her to appear.

I cross the street and stare up into the leaves of a mango tree.

In the distance, the traffic fades and it is quiet.

Meenakshi is a Malayali from Delhi. She earned her MA in Comparative Literature from SOAS and her poetry has been published by nether Quarterly, VAYAVYA, and Porridge Magazine. Find her @meenusbookcase on Instagram.