by Meghana Ravi
I watch the fishermen pull their nets in from the sea:
tangled thicket of twisted knots
wrangled by weathered hands well-suited to this art.
Their silver scaled bodies shuddered and shuddered on that shore,
Like swimmers who dive without dipping their toes.
I feel the lash of cords tightening against my skin.
I feel the burn of oxygen in my lungs that demands what
only water can provide.
Mouths flop open and shut,
in time with the slowing pulse of the world.
Yet still it spins.
To be flotsam
To exist without this mosaic of memories under my skin.
Everytime I forget he reminds me again.
Each recurrence is another loop—
Another tied off knot.
A cage has collapsed into a net and
now it trails everywhere I walk.
It gets caught on the strangest of things:
an image, a sound, a song,
wine, a certain tone of his voice, and falling water glasses.
gets stuck in doors and chairs
And I understand now why some women just
chop it all off.
I contemplate error and escape strategies;
search Google for how to slice open a net with
only a ballpoint pen and its cap.
Reminded how one time,
to get to the clementines
I sawed and sawed
until I could rip it apart with my hands.
My chest contracts.
Oxygen loops around an
Lying on the beach with the grounding
grit of sand
pressed into my cheeks.
And the fishermen carelessly shake seaweed from the net.
Saltwater spray stays on my tongue.
I shudder for
there is no escape from the bruises under my skin.
The marks the lattice has left
reminds me of something else
and it tugs at the cords around me.
I go out.
Fishnet tights and red lips again.
I walk in circles at 1 AM.
It is in the way I lingered at the back of the class
on field trips until everybody had gone ahead
except me and
waited desperately for someone to turn around.
It is in the way I played hide and
seek in department stores
without telling my mother first.
Slipping under the racks stuffed with
gauzy prom dresses, lace spilling out the sides.
A quiet unfulfilled expectation that my mother
would push aside the veil and say,
There. I found you.
And he wants to be loved like an old god—
revered and feared all at once.
Inconstancy the idiosyncrasy he shares with the sea.
And I am but a paper boat in the midst of
I rise and fall, crumble and sob, ink bleeds
My life has become before and after, but
I am not your Iphigenia—
essence and dignity on the altar every time
your sea throws a temper tantrum.
You have caught me once
(I know your tricks)
(I know your truth)
and I will slip away for good.
Meghana Ravi is a sophomore at Johns Hopkins University, studying Molecular and Cellular Biology and creative writing (under the Writing Seminars Program). In her free time, she enjoys reading, yoga, and hanging out with her friends.