a poem written by Anjali Jain, ’21

My friend,

Sometimes I see you reading in the grass.
I see you splayed out beneath the fire-white sky, like the petals of a flower, or a new-broken window, refracting fractals of light and shadow and brutal, breaking, broken edges and edges and edges on end, the end.

Screw that. I’m a liar, and you know the endings I have told. You
don’t end with edges, don’t end
with broken, don’t end with your legs carrying you
to the door.

Friend, your jagged tongue comes from somewhere,
from eyes that see into the bottoms of things:
the cat’s belly, the gritty pond, the cobblestone, dust and ashes

The world’s another strip of life-hatched
leather for you to stitch into
something beautiful. I see the lines it
forms beneath your fingers, threads of rocks and rivers, blinding
for a second in the setting of the sun.

I see the ragged endings tucked away.

‘Cause friend, you cannot fix the world by shouting
at its bent-up bits and pieces, peace
is no dove, nothing light, my love; nothing
to fit on your shoulder and sing with you
not in your voice, not every time.

You, a storm in the desert, a mighty
redwood among the plastic palm trees
sometimes it’s braver to touch the Earth
again. Sometimes it’s braver to arm yourself with someone else’s noise.

I ask the impossible, I know, I know…
I know I don’t. I can’t.
The world has fed me roses and
it has fed you broken glass. but
my friend, I will boomerang you a smile; I will wrap up your scraped knuckles with crackling-thin hope; I
will pour my quiet, my waiting, my different kind
of crying on the burning, burned-up places. I
cannot be the avenging angel curled inside your splintered altar but I can be a soft place for your knees.

I can let you rest.