The Women in my Bed
i look at myself in the mirror, and see that i am a quilt, that i have flowers sprawling all over me: patches woven into my body of all of the women who sat in my bed on the side of my face, trailing from my forehead to my jaw, spreading like a bright flush onto my cheek, i see gardenias, and it’s this child—this silly, silly little thing—and i think i could blame my mother for it, for touching my forehead (like i was something of fragile glass), for holding me gently as i burrowed into the sleeves of her kameez, for kissing my cheek, for feeding me soft peaches, persimmons, alphonso: this part of me feels untouched, unblemished, and i see that the scars from the acne haven’t spread here, that i touch it and feel an inexplicable joy, like i’m still wrapped around my mother’s leg.
next i spot some grass, just off my wrist, that’s almost burned over—of the adventurer—courtesy of my sister: i see the late night falooda, whispering under hushed voices, building forts with old blankets, telling her all of my secrets, running down narrow streets to see who gets to the bottom first, her hand in my hair, my head on her lap with ugly tears. this part is a little more flexible, fluid—i mold it to be my vulnerable, touchy side, the one in which the small things matter so much more, the one where i forgive my father for everything he’s done, where i hold the small, tattered koala bear to my chest because it was the first gift that i really cared for.
in the divots of my collarbone, i find a forlorn rose, that first love—pressing into it, i am blinded of memories, of kisses shared underneath the cherry blossoms, of hands encircled around my waist, of eyes softening at the sight of each other, of hiding from the world in a closet made of clothes and of every star under the sky, of slipping underneath the mattress, of sighs and sounds, of the worst pain i’ve ever felt: this part feels broken, like i’ve wandered too far into the forest, like the thorns of the rose are the only pieces left, but i feel like something else when i bleed from the abrasions, like i’m starting anew, like there’s new soil for me to grow on.
arcing across my back, there are orchards of orchids and ylang ylang, my slowly blooming maturity, all at the hands of my best friend—she took me to a woman from a girl, pounded my clay through all the conversations we had lapse between us through sending books back and forth, through sending me a box of chocolate, by spending an hour just listening to their voice flit through the screen of my phone, and with long messages to wake up to, filled with love. this side healing from everything, being kind, washing the dishes in the sink, being there for everyone else, being responsible. this part of me loves myself like no other.
i pick up the toothbrush, and in moving against the air, i feel all these women embrace me once again, pick up my pieces, let my skin collect in their hands, and i sink to home again.
About the Author: Akshita Krishnan is a junior in high school whose life spans across multiple continents: currently, she calls a small suburb out of Dallas, Texas home. She has a love for philosophy and poetry, and hopes to publish a full length collection of poetry and short prose one day. Her work has most recently appeared in Atlas and Alice, Fifth Wheel Press, and Miniskirt Magazine.