Anika Prakash

La Jument

This poem is based on Jean Guichard’s photograph of the same name. The italicized line is a quote from Theodore Malgorn, the man shown in the picture.

Everyone I know is a ghost of themself.

He is no different. He stands alone,
grey against brown against Iroise.

Everything I know is blue.

The shadows, the barriers, all devolving
from night. There is the brick and
then there is him. There is water all around.

You cannot play with the sea.

There is fear. There is a God he wishes he could see.
His body is not a bullet. The railings are oxidized
until teal. I don’t know if I can see past this,
the waves, the roar, all rising from night.

Everyone I know is a ghost of themself.

He is no different. He steps back and closes his eyes.
Still stranded, still silent, whispers of uncertainty.

 

Budapest

In snow, I am safe / elsewhere, bodies overgrown lay oil-slicked, half-eaten, near-death / I knew half a wonder / before it turned to ash / in the palm of my hand. I imagine the sky / rimmed black. I have to be honest / I’ve shredded myself / into everyone I know. No part of me / whole. No part of me / silenced. Maybe there are enough wolves / for a choir of cries. I listen / to the church bells / every time they ring. There is no cathedral / that is mine alone. Help me, help me / the children lay on the ground / vision cobbled. I knew a little girl / now an urn of forgiveness. We buried her / in December. When the snow melted / there were only teeth. This must be / how we will remember. Let’s not think / about the wolves / how they must have torn her flaxen hair / from the root. Everything still crisp and clean / every drop of blood devoured. I sit in the pew, eyes lowered / I am not here, I am not her. There must be another way / I can sacrifice myself.

 

The Us Within Us

My memory was triangulated around a place

where exit signs became exit wounds. This was

 

before winter came. Before my eyes glazed

over and hands frosted away from light.

 

Before I die, I will tell this story a thousand

times. My brother was like smoke. My

 

brother is not real. He is my hands joined

together in prayer. I jolt awake in the dead

 

of night and remind myself of this again and

again. I saw two bodies buried before February

 

came. I saw him turn to earth as I turned over

in my bed, staring at the empty stucco ceiling.

 

The bed sheets are crisp and white. The sky is whole

and empty. I see a single bird flutter across the quiet.

 

I am all alone, but this is home.

About Anika Prakash