She wanted to go to Czechoslovakia when it ceased to exist – Anushka Kelkar

Illustration – Delna Abraham

Her hair smelled like a strange mix of jasmine and coconut oil;

if nostalgia had a smell this would certainly be it

She floated in fragile paper boats through street signs while she turned time inside out upside down

She ate poetry for breakfast in polite mouth fulls and spat out colonialized countries

How do you un-learn what you have spent your whole life learning?

This is her love letter to a world that didn’t understand how to love her

This is her love letter to a world that she didn’t know how to love

Letter 1

Bodies engulfing bodies

Bodies begging to be saved, bodies begging to be loved

She couldn’t see the world as anything other than a picture onto which she kept clutching so tightly that it became a part of her hands. Every time she met someone new, she passed the picture on to them. Please, don’t hurt me her fingers whispered.

Her Father was a painter, her mother was a sculptor

They taught her to create new names for feelings that hadn’t been discovered yet

Nofel for the feeling you get when you miss someone so much that your palms tingle

Radicell for the feeling you get when you’re nostalgic for the past but also nostalgic for the future

They painted seeds in the spaces between her childhood that reminded them of their childhoods

When the Nazis took them away, there were suddenly white spaces that never got enough water sitting inside of her, feasting on her

She told herself that her spine was made from the teeth of all the infants who weren’t able to survive in the gas chambers.

She told herself that she was more than the destruction that led to her creation.

Letter 2

Fire lanterns glazing the sky like jellyfish suspended by puppet strings

She made her way through layers of peels

Skin on skin they reconstructed the creation of the world

She was his Eve, made from that rib that never quite grew back the same

She lost herself in maps of the world, he lost himself in maps of her body.

Collar bone to ear- 10 centimeters

Ear to nose- 3 centimeters

Every time she hurt, he broke more parts of his ribs in attempt to make her feel whole

She doused herself in fire and jumped into the galaxy

Sometimes, when he looks up into the sky his rib still burns.

Letter 3

She wanted to explore temples in villages that didn’t have a name yet

She wanted to find God in the way sunshine carved through her skin like braille

She wanted to wake up one morning and feel like her body was more than an airport terminal that people stopped over in until they decided where they wanted to go

Letter 5

She does not remember how to spit poetry out with vengeance any more

But sometimes when she wakes up with make up smeared across her eyes she is convinced that she is the jenga piece that made the tower crumble

Most days, she’s convinced that she does not need love

She does not know how to love without sin

She floats in her paper boat through the busy streets

Turning time inside out, upside down

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