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A list of things I could never say to you by Bhavya Bhagtani

Photo by Alfred Stieglitz

1. Five years ago, when my grandfather died, I buried a key in an ocean and convinced myself the ocean didn't exist. The key was the shape of my tongue and I never taught my words how to swim. You always asked me why I woke up in the middle of so many nights running out of breath like I was drowning.

This is why.

2. The bridge between your eyebrows always reminded me of a valley. Your face was a map I wish I could have memorised. But, the wrinkles around your eyes were always changing. You were always changing.

I ran out of cheat codes. I am sorry.

3. I always wanted to build a small house in the backyard of my own home for fireflies. The idea of never having to sleep through a starless night made me feel safe. You told me fireflies eventually burnt themselves out like black holes. You showed me people were capable of doing the same.

4. All the times you caught me repeatedly whispering your name to myself were times I was remembering all the butterflies I caught in cassette covers as a child to watch them die.

I was wondering if I was doing the same to you.

5. There are deserts and there are seas. The deserts can spit you out till your throat feels like a drought and the seas can suck you in till you become the only void you have ever known.

There were days you felt like both.

6. I learnt about leaves that can be eaten in the mountains to survive and flowers that you can drink the nectar of. I learnt about the many ways of covering your wounds when stranded in forests for them to not prove fatal. I learnt everything I needed to tell death she couldn't take me yet.

But I failed to learn how to survive you.

7. So, this is my eulogy for all the seasons you painted in shades of autumn for me. For all the days you told me the sun hadn't risen yet and put me back into sleep. For all the times you made me you were the oxygen mask. For all the times you made me believe... It was my mistake I had forgotten how to breathe.

About the prose-poem:

"I wrote this poem for the kind of love that makes you feel as if you are the best and the worst version of yourself at the same time. I hope we all get to experience it someday, but be powerful enough to walk away from it after some point." - Bhavya

Follow Bhavya's writing on Instagram.


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