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What is Left

by Sanjana Nair

There are 13 ways to do this

and some are easier than others


If nature steps in, then a sleepy, peaceful thing, though hard to know

what dreamers who don’t wake know, but to be awake—


so harsh—so maybe the way to make this happen is that you just

slam the door behind you, leave your dirty button-downs and loose coins


but then, you might decide to turn back, turn me all salt and hope

as you put your arms around my torso, to delay the way an organ can break


in a life that no longer wants me or you in it together. 

The fatty breakfasts we will keep making until


we can no longer stand it.  Maybe I’ll start to cringe at the smell of bacon

but more likely, I’ll have to shrug it off, buck up and go on living


with my BLT’s.  Perhaps I’ll go purple with insomnia.

This is another way to stop the heart.  Slow, drawn-out way


to slam the brakes on living.  Remarkable, what we can count

even if we come at it slant or sideways, all slipping toward


the same result.  Maybe it all began with battles on girlhood,

which is to say the same thing as battles on boyhood.


Somewhere deep down, maybe in the spleen or located in the liver,

we all know the organs of love are born endangered—ready to quit:


Beats carefully numbered from conception,

waiting for moments that equal subtraction. 


If we say there are 13 ways then it’s hard

not to remember the way we assign bad luck,


that the Bible numbers a girl this way:  Lawless rebel,

and the devil wants his freakish fingers counted,


and that 13th fellow who made the Last Supper, last. 

How we can take the pagan and name our own destructions.


How good we are at making it hurt where it burns.

How you, and I, are marked in ways not of our own making


Have you not also been part of the dreaming of bodies? 

Who writes this text anyway, if not you and I


through the thickness of days.  How the pump of a woman’s body

doubles in hope, how we don’t know the ways it shrinks in loss. 


Japanese style hari-kari of what is love, we go Takutsubo

with no visible cuts or burns to mark the occasion.


It may show in the way the mouth has settled,

the lips always bent down, now, at the edges. 


Maybe it was lost inside the broken vase, whose shards

we hastily gathered and tossed in the long-gone trash.


Or in the dump with the rotary phone.  When I get the call

that another friend has run out of beats I ask what is left behind?


Tell me, dear friend, how do I mark you?  All these ways to leave—

Who the hell ever said forever about the heart and its matters?


                                                                                              Forever ends here.

Written by Sanjana Nair


August 2019

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