Death Looking For Me Turning 30

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Art by Gopal Ghose


When I think of d e a t h                  I often think that I might die in d e b t;
leaving four incomplete notebooks 

                                                         stacked on the d e s k;

overfilling my cooker with lentils      
its foam escaping through the w h i s t l e loud and shrill;

                                                          sharing empty slides at a women’s conference

looking for words to b e g i n;

                                                           lost at a large parking space 

searching f r a n t i c a l l y for an exit gate;
not taking another online test 

                                                          or sipping on strong leaf t e a;

missing a call or two from the mailman 

                                                          or worrying about my m a’ s congestion;

never perfecting the tehai that I learnt last winter

                                                           buying another pack of bobby pins to keep those locks in;

w i t h o u t, for once, figuring

                                                           that I’ve lost my body.

Looking for Me

When the stop lights turn green
and you’re about to be seen,
do you carry yourself
or leave yourself behind
at the flat mirror
gazing backwards?

And when you pull over
about to be felt,
do you put on yourself 
or fold yourself in;
or tuck yourself into your bell-bottom jeans?
What about meets?
Put on the camera, 
put off yourself,
or let your picture mute itself?

What if by chance,
you look grief in the eye
from that platform.
Will you spend the night waiting
or take the next train? 

Turning 30

To be pale and 30, an unambitious git;
sockets sitting deeper than a crater, such a misfit.
Do you recognise this total sloth, you?
Collecting coupons in her purse, one by one, 
until they have all expired.
About this criss-cross around the mouth, 
Should retinol help in straightening ‘em out?
Look how weary of booking an appointment to the doctor’s
but tailors, you ask, make up the call log; else disaster.

To fall into 30, too tired to be crafty
no more an agitator or much of a speaker
only quick awkward handshakes; hands bookmarking pages
never likely to be read.
Taking for granted the crumbs of 20s, 
to be eaten away behind locked doors like termites feasting on softwood.
Wasn’t 26 nearer to 28? 
At 29 this thigh gap closing inch by inch, the waist going like a nashi pear
without a care. 
Care trying to care, failing miserably to fare. 

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Shreyashi Mandal 

Shreyashi is a research scholar at Jadavpur University Department of Comparative Literature, Kolkata, India. She started experimenting with poetic forms during the pandemic, and her poems have appeared in Third Lane Magazine and Miracle Monocle. She is unable to map out what she wants in life, and does as her heart desires. 


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