Illustration: cutting board with square oranges and one poppy

of family dinners at the shrinking house

I cut open a blood orange,
my tongue hisses at the redness.

We are taught to measure pain
in numbers,
and pointy syringe needles.

A knife goes through the cutting
board, my mother blames the
wood, all the damage sinking
into garden soil.

I am quite finished with dinner,
turmeric powder staining the
insides of my throat;
my cheek kissing an ode to salt.

When my brother
cracks the plate into two at
the dining tableā€”an audacious
desperation to be made whole
again, I fix up the edges of his
fingers.

He rates the pain, a syringe and
a half;
I am sure it must have at least
been a three.

At breakfast, his bandages yank
open his chest as he tells my
mother
he likes kissing boys.
His lips demand no mending.


Shringarika Pandey (she/her) is a 20-year-old poet based in India. On her good days, you can find her reading Richard Siken and enjoying the company of her multiple houseplants whom she loves dearly.

Cutting Board illustration by C.B. Auder (digital collage).

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