The year bends down to touch its toes,
as you gather in the folds
of your pajamas during your night time strolls
in the parks and walkways. You pass by
whistling a careless tune. You cough
up icky-sticky stars of phlegm. A moist bench.
Crusty limbs. And your fears of being
haunted by half-and-half things. Meanwhile,
a thieving rat races to escape, and ultimately succeeds.
Your tongue has swallowed up the words
that you prudently thought to leave unsaid.
Is that the reason why you feel so half dead?
So beaten and sad at the ends of most days
that you’d be glad to drown the lot in acid.
This is hopeless.
No button holes. No bouquets. Nobody waiting
for you downstairs. And yet, a calendar page
flutters and spills its omen like a long-hoarded jelly bean.
Moments cluster around like tea dregs
at the bottom of a cup. Each past thought and deed
curls around itself. The end seems to ceaselessly upend.
What of it? Indeed what? It is only time
struggling like an albatross
across a choppy sea, heavy of wing, and gasping
as it struggles through mad air. Unaware
of the hatchlings left to themselves, and far
behind. It’s nothing but a stupid rigmarole
summing up life. The collapse of another year.
Another month to go before winter’s smoke
signals distant spring.
Shikhandin is the pen name of an Indian writer who writes for adults and children. Her published books, as Shikhandin, include “After Grief – Poems” (Red River, India), “Impetuous Women” (Penguin-Random House India), "Immoderate Men" (Speaking Tiger), and "Vibhuti Cat" (Duckbill-Penguin-Random House India). Prior to that a novel and a short story collection were published. Shikhandin’s sci-fi story – Communal – was published simultaneously in two anthologies, ‘A Dying Planet’ from Flametree Press and ‘Avatar’ from Future Fiction in January 2020. Her fantastika have been published in Sybil’s Garage, Enchanted Conversation, After Dinner Conversation and a few other magazines. Shikhandin's honours include, runner up George Floyd Short Story Contest 2020 (UK), Pushcart nominee by Aeolian Harp (USA) 2019, Pushcart nominee by Cha: An Asian Literary Journal (Hong Kong) 2011, Winner 2017 Children First Contest curated by Duckbill in association with Parag an initiative of Tata Trust, First prize Brilliant Flash Fiction Contest 2019 (USA), Runner up Erbacce Poetry Prize (UK), Winner 35th Moon Prize (Writing in a Woman's Voice: USA), First Runner up The DNA-OoP Short Story Contest 2016 (India), Second Prize India Currents Katha Short Story Contest 2016 (USA), First prize Anam Cara Short Fiction Competition 2012 (Ireland), Long list Bridport Poetry Prize 2006 (UK), Finalist Aesthetica Poetry Contest 2010 (UK). Shikhandin's poetry and prose have been widely published worldwide in journals and anthologies.