After you come upon my bed from windows and doors
Rising like vapour from the grass
And after I fall asleep
The pillow melts under my ears
And Mamma quietly steps out of the room
To finish work on the computer,
Or to watch TV because I don’t let her
you are different
For Mamma and for me. Your blackness is different after she leaves.
In your foggy blackness, there are thieves
that float above the streets
And sit on sidewalks
With eyes like owls that are too large and watchful
And heads like fish
That must forever swim lest they forget who they are.
In your foggy blackness
Thieves turn to mist
And come upon my bed from windows and doors.
Grilles on windows
Cannot stop them. Guards on the gates
Cannot stop them. Perhaps Mamma
Cannot stop them. But the dark is different
When she is in it. Your dark is lighter
When she is in it.
But some nights Mamma pulls me to her
And holds me too tight.
I feel her stiffen with fear
Against the ghosts slithering under our sheet
Though the dark is different for her and for me.
This poem is from the series Dear So-and-So.
Smriti Ravindra is a high school English teacher teaching a bunch of hyper-active, hyper-happy students. She writes to maintain sanity. She has co-authored a full-length book with Annie Zaidi, A Bad Boy’s Guide to a Good Indian Girl (Zubaan, 2011). Her short stories have featured in several publications including La.Lit, 42 Magazines, The Westerly Magazine, and Out of Print. She is a regular contributor to a column in The Kathmandu Post – an English newspaper in Nepal.