“To My 9-Year-Old Self” By Shenali Wijesinghe

I remember you dancing.

a tangle of slender limbs
twisting and curving—
the melody swirling
out of idle heart strings
eyes closed
succumbing wild fantasies.

I still dance.
I’m dancing on shattered glass
as I let it cut my soul
and I bleed the rain that falls from these skies.

I remember you,
scribbling on paper
hands shaking
knuckles white
trying to color between the lines
in delicate meditation

I can’t quite color between the lines anymore
my heart setting forth the seas
and spilling off these paper white fingertips,
(pain)t smudges on canvas
reeking of turpentine

I remember you,
dreams bundled to your little chest
stories spilling off sweet lips

you could get cavities from being so sweet

your eyes burning with the liquid fire of the sun
you hands moulded from stardust
as you swam in starspilt skies
and lived.

I remember you
racing across golden paddy fields
the wind caressing rouge cheeks
your flushed face
tasting time at the tip of your tongue
as red, yellow sunsets crawled across skies.
You would eat them all up,
swallow them whole
orange blossoming across your gums.

I’ll try to sew you into my skin now.
It hurts.
You entering my skin
coagulating in my blood.

I remember you,
feet cool on metal roofs
watching a kite sail languidly
across tempered skies.
I didn’t care for much then.

Fear didn’t skitter through the hollows
of my bones
and words slipped past
with no bitter aftertaste.

I’ve changed.                                                 As time


a sharp blade
I used to carve myself
to fit into arms—
but when their palms were bloody
and I explained
they left.

Everything in me longs for your
little hands and tiny toes,
your chubby cheeks
your rounded nose,
your rose petal lips
and wide eyes.

Still I no longer expect you to return.
But these bones will remember you,
echoing your laughter
on dreary nights.
I’ll bury memories of you beneath these shadows
the lopsided birthmark on my chin can
be your gravestone.

see the world is too fragile.
Only those with calloused palms
and hearts like mine
can conquer these roads.
Your unmarked skin couldn’t possibly roam these streets.

Watch me dance on eggshells.

The world is fragile,
but then again so am I

Shenali Wijesinghe has been writing since she was 9 years old. From journals with renditions of fairies dotting the columns to slightly stranger things, words were the things that somehow got stuck. When she’s not writing, she is either spending her days laughing in the sun—trying to swallow sunsets and taste the rain all whilst singing nonsensically, or, she spends her time trying to find what lies beneath her skin—be it by tearing up people, ripping books and a few abstract art pieces, digging up beaches or jumping out of windows, all in the hope that the impact would crack her bones and release the spirit that wandered in the marrow.


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