Foreign Mother Tongue by Srishti Saharia


Art by Walter Bonner Gash

I've heard they take our names

like hymns while sewing palms

that do not fit in each others',

so that when they eventually grow out of them,

they wouldn't very agonisingly break them

and their hearts open.

they rip off some of their fingers,

one at a time,

so that they cannot make

each other illicit metaphors,

and count them later,

scraped and discarded upon

the barren lands of their bodies.

they call our names between

mouthfuls of raw ballads,

in an attempt to remind each other

they would be humans and lovers,

and not two broken poems,

unlike us,

who are bleeding each other

upon thin brown pages,

that talk about graveyards,

and wilted flowers.

they crack their indexes

and take my name,

and yours,

while cracking their thumbs,

and all of sudden,

they are flashing the rubies

resting at peace on their ring fingers,

instead of poems about spilled chardonnay,

or the fault in their stars.

they cuff their wrists,

to never break free the other,

and every time they break glasses,

and a bit of their hearts,

they whisper our names,

one breath at a time,

to recall to end up like us,

with broken glasses and

more broken hearts,

feeding on our own tears,

from those same broken glasses.


my name feels foreign

in their mother tongue,

but yours feels like it belongs

to the war zone of my motherland,

and my broken cuffs are

asking me to strap them on,

and break the rest of my fingers,

and to not make you my next metaphor,

but you see,

I've made your name

a metaphor for so long that my poems

know you way better than I'd do

once again,

and maybe, our fingers were only meant circle each others' palms, and later write poems about,

and not for ripping hearts and fingers and glasses,

once again,

all over again.

Follow Srishti's writing here.