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Come, Eat, I Promise

by Swati Sudarsan

I lived long deprived, a long

silence, drenched in

abstemious want. I wanted

nothing, knowing longing

was only useful in smoking

out rats. I lived as a woman,

which is the same as a ghost.

I survived violations unseen,

determined to find

an approximation of desire,

haloed desire, knowing nothing

of its true nature.

I had never desired anything

but safety. Distance from

events that soiled my soul.

I wandered past the sky

to the sea and reached it

weeping streams of tears,

blossoms and bouquets, buds

with scarlet-dappled thorns

that betrayed my whereabouts

and They came together,

Time and Weary.

They taught me hunger, so

I hungered, eating after

prayers clasping pinkies,

to hack paths to ribbons,

trampling prints not mine as

They checked empty maps

and filled them with lines

leading to an end. But

until then we would eat

wingless birds full of songs,

sucked from their

skulls so our pockets sang

whenever we desired.

As we edged toward the

end I found my morals

lighter, hollower day

by day. Found my hair

looser, undressed more

easily, teeth falling out

in clumps, my gums

bleeding, dropping petals

of canines like a procession.

One day I saw a sight

that sent my desire

thumping: Moonglow

dancing upon a stone

not too solid, its light

scattering, a type

of infinite, which is

a type of ending.

Time and Weary held me

back as they violented

the stone. I played bird

songs to drown them out.

When They came back

to me kissing knuckles,

washing off blood, I stood

armed with desire, stone

cold desire, and stepped

up to finish Their job until

a vein of blue glimmer

in the stone caught

my throat, sent it

beating like a little

bird heart—so fast

that at first glance

it looks still.

In this stillness, I found

I did not desire an ending

but altogether

a different journey

Swati Sudarsan is based in Oakland, CA (Ohlone Land). Swati has received support from Tin House, Kenyon Review, Kweli Journal, and Martha's Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing. She was the runner-up of the 2022 So to Speak Contest Issue, and has work in McSweeney's, The Adroit Journal, Maudlin House and more.


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