What is Left
by Sanjana Nair
There are 13 ways to do this
and some are easier than others
If nature steps in, then a sleepy, peaceful thing, though hard to know
what dreamers who don’t wake know, but to be awake—
so harsh—so maybe the way to make this happen is that you just
slam the door behind you, leave your dirty button-downs and loose coins
but then, you might decide to turn back, turn me all salt and hope
as you put your arms around my torso, to delay the way an organ can break
in a life that no longer wants me or you in it together.
The fatty breakfasts we will keep making until
we can no longer stand it. Maybe I’ll start to cringe at the smell of bacon
but more likely, I’ll have to shrug it off, buck up and go on living
with my BLT’s. Perhaps I’ll go purple with insomnia.
This is another way to stop the heart. Slow, drawn-out way
to slam the brakes on living. Remarkable, what we can count
even if we come at it slant or sideways, all slipping toward
the same result. Maybe it all began with battles on girlhood,
which is to say the same thing as battles on boyhood.
Somewhere deep down, maybe in the spleen or located in the liver,
we all know the organs of love are born endangered—ready to quit:
Beats carefully numbered from conception,
waiting for moments that equal subtraction.
If we say there are 13 ways then it’s hard
not to remember the way we assign bad luck,
that the Bible numbers a girl this way: Lawless rebel,
and the devil wants his freakish fingers counted,
and that 13th fellow who made the Last Supper, last.
How we can take the pagan and name our own destructions.
How good we are at making it hurt where it burns.
How you, and I, are marked in ways not of our own making
Have you not also been part of the dreaming of bodies?
Who writes this text anyway, if not you and I
through the thickness of days. How the pump of a woman’s body
doubles in hope, how we don’t know the ways it shrinks in loss.
Japanese style hari-kari of what is love, we go Takutsubo
with no visible cuts or burns to mark the occasion.
It may show in the way the mouth has settled,
the lips always bent down, now, at the edges.
Maybe it was lost inside the broken vase, whose shards
we hastily gathered and tossed in the long-gone trash.
Or in the dump with the rotary phone. When I get the call
that another friend has run out of beats I ask what is left behind?
Tell me, dear friend, how do I mark you? All these ways to leave—
Who the hell ever said forever about the heart and its matters?
Forever ends here.
Written by Sanjana Nair