If I could gather pieces of me
by Jonaki Ray

If I retrace the filigree
of memories
to discover a sense of me
I find shards.
Grandfather mocking, your mother
loves your brother more than you.
Grandmother sneering at my attempts
at rolling chapatis.
Uncle saying she would be pretty
except she is too dark.
The boys in my class taunting
You get good grades because you are a girl.
          Pieces of me pierce through
          on that chilly evening on Lake Avenue.
          You tell me that my eyes are my best feature
          but my friend is “overall prettier”
          You scowl in surprised annoyance at my sudden
          tears and turned away face.
          “Stop sulking! People are watching!”
          I fix my face and say sorry.
          Later, the layers of the blueberry cheesecake
          bile in my stomach as I say “Yes”
          to your proposal
          though every electron inside
          screams No.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This is a photo of me, a few months old, with my parents, and was clicked in Kanpur, India.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: As soon as I read the prompt, I thought of my experience of being in an abusive relationship, and this poem wrote by itself. Writing poetry is a therapeutic tool, especially when it comes to dealing with pain and trauma of the past, and transforms regret into wisdom.


Jonaki Ray
is an editor based in India. She studied Chemistry and Computer Science at the University of Illinois, and after working briefly as a software engineer, returned to India and her first love, writing. Her work has been published and is forthcoming in India, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Singapore in journals like Coldnoon: Travel Poetics, The Four Quarters Magazine, Kitaab, and The Lake, among others. In Spring 2016, she was a Writer in Residence at Joya:AiR, an inter-disciplinary residency program in Spain.

PHOTO: The author in Athens, Greece.