Nostalgia and Other Poems

grief

I stood there, awash with
sand dunes I never visit

one foot twisted inside of itself:
coquette, doll-thing.

my father’s words washed over me,
this script my antique.
I have not bothered to learn
the lost pages between us

childhood memories

1.
the zillionaire babe fantasy
in the Lisa Frank diary
spontaneous stories of twin girls with 23 siblings
green-lined paper & stained blue pilot pens
scarred against blueprint, I mean,
blotting paper.

Geneva font on my mother’s first Mac, before
Mombasa and FM music. before rehearsals for The Crucible

2.
congealed hair,
lying legs up in the heat,
pyjamas collecting at my hips;
no neat matching sets.
instead: marker stripes,
more ladders than snakes
R ma’am smiled & I tattled;
I was afraid of anyone who could make their toenails bleed
but now mine do, too

3.
warm rain, barefoot, lice shampoo;
twigs and bugs in the swimming pool.
& then it’s drama club & the cool girls wear thongs and pretty bras
& straighten their hair & she comes into the bathroom & tells me
stop being so cocky

4.
swinging on K’s grounds
I don’t know why I didn’t call her
Bulbul, too

5.
trying to sing in My Fair Lady but I’m out of tune, or
it’s M ma’am’s fake British accent.
crowded vans and sitting mesmerized.
fluffy ruffled dresses fade into cheap facsimiles.

6.
my friend made her maid pull the hair out of her brush
we smiled at all the elegant pictures in Europe     and I am done with inspiration
done with secular white teeth, or
making friendship bands with slum school kids
I am a runaway bead from America to America
glass and Czech, the clasp of a whirring fan
a train berth
a turmeric treatment.

7.
my hair like skin memory,
hearing aid betrayal
I won’t listen anymore.
Himalaya shampoos and conditioners everywhere.
rose water and almond oil.
the neat tiled floor, nothing like stone and peeling plaster.
water heaters waiting to fry us alive.
everything was risky, like being nearly naked on the balcony
and the little boy staring, staring.

8.
and all I remember of Manhattan
is yellow lamplight sitting on the sink

nostalgia

my father draws wires above my head,
plastic coating don’t touch.
all this cheap red yellow blue and then
thin metal escapes: frayed snakes.
I guess he’s immune but not me.

I want to write the scenery of Chandigarh
but I already forget. hapless dung piles and soil
blend into Hyderabad.

I want to be shivering again
at the bus stop in my Vivek school blazer,
marveling at wisps
of breath in the cold fog.
and now I don’t need a hat, no;
thin tights are enough.

I want J pushing and hitting me against thin leather.
(later he also throws desk corks at me)
I want to argue again, over up top
in the side front seat with P.
I want to be hot as flies again
on rudimentary festival red carpet.

and I’m so glad I never have to go through any of it ever again.

About author

Shana Bulhan Haydock
Shana Bulhan Haydock 1 posts

Shana Bulhan Haydock is a young, South Asian, disabled, gender/queer writer, artist and activist. They currently reside in Western Massachusetts, USA, though they grew up mostly in India. They recently graduated from Mount Holyoke College, and have been accepted into the Juniper Institute, a summer writing program at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Their work has appeared in such publications as EDGE literary journal, the Everyday Abolition project, aaduna literary magazine, and (parenthetical) zine.

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