Illustration: two swans facing one another


No one asks after the swans.

Past the dark night, beneath boughs
of red flowers I am yet to name, I look over
and wonder where the light travels to.

There is a bridge here, curving, to
walk on when we are slow, exhausted.
In the deep night with its threaded silver
we are still laughing. Later, I sit and wonder

who that was, laughing. I am sure
this story wasn’t sad the first time I
said it. It wasn’t funny either, it was just

who I was. Two hours since I can see
what changed—a vanished bird—yet
who I was still remains, debris stitched

into my skin, thirteen puncture hole
reminders of how we never really removed
the masked screens, not even when we were

eating, not even when the crowds thinned,
not even when I was on a trapeze, for an
audience of six. Long past,

I am twisting my fingers, eking out the flesh,
turning them deep and hollow like bird
bones, thinking of what went wrong, what can

be right. The moon shifts shape. The bird

is still in the waters, an eternal performer,
dancing without knowledge of the dance,
the watchers, the cool stillness of the waters.

Illustration: leaves floating on water looking as though they are falling through outer space

Stuti Pachisia is a doctoral student and poet based out of Cambridge, UK and Calcutta, India. Her previous work has been published in The Rialto, Capsule Stories, The Seventh Wave, Reach Out & Beyond, The Alipore Post, Cleaver Magazine and Scroll. In 2020, she was a finalist for the prestigious Srinivas Rayaprol Poetry Prize, a national award for Indian poets. Twitter: @steewtweets

Swan and Water illustrations by C.B. Auder.

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