divyasri krishnan


It’s not that I’m unhappy tonight; just that I discovered things I was not prepared for, I could not handle. The window has a gap of three inches at the top, hidden by the blinds my mother bought me, and lets in all manner of creatures, some flying, some scaling the mosquito netting industriously, so that even my isolation has its vulnerabilities. The world is closed off from me, but I am not closed off from the world. The flies settle upside-down and watch me want, with all my heart, to make myself some honeyed tea. To eat a bite. To shift my limbs again with purpose. Instead I lie, brimmed with emptiness, and feel distantly the trickle of piss down one leg. I can’t seem to wipe it off—I can’t. 

Weeks ago, when a friend was in town, we discussed Colobopsis saundersi: the exploding ant. Its suicide, supernovic, is the ultimate form of defense. Is it worthwhile to die in the name of life? ‘To sacrifice yourself for your kind,’ the friend said, then she placed a hand spidered with veins on her stomach. She was two months pregnant, and much of our talk centered around sacrifice. How can you be fulfilled by giving so much up? And yet she was—she was. Her cheeks were all color. She was a virgin at the zenith of her beauty, but she was not a virgin. How does birth, the creation, deprive instead? The color will not last. The energy, the nobility—they will not last. 

I watched myself drain my mother of everything good. I was upside-down on the wall and I watched her waste away. It happens like this: the hair goes first, then the fat, then the skin gathering and spotting. Her eyes were once pennies winking in a wishing pool; then they were crossed out. I took a little bit of everything from her: beauty, desirability, purpose. Mother is a poor substitute for a name. Then I left, and slowly, through phone calls, pictures, the occasional video, I saw her reanimated. It was beautiful. It was the most terrible thing I had ever seen. How she filled out, like a rose bush, glutted with life without a daughter to steal it. I wanted her to wilt again, so I could prove it wasn’t me. But it was. It was.


divyasri krishnan (she/her/hers) is published or forthcoming in Muzzle Magazine, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Third Point Press, and elsewhere. her work has been recognized by Palette Poetry, the Adroit Journal, YoungArts, the National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and the Poetry Society of the UK. she is a Pushcart Prize nominee and a Best of the Net finalist. When not writing, she’s getting lost on Pittsburgh public transit or ingesting unsafe amounts of caffeine.