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Dear Girl with an Ethnic Name -- poetry by Pranavi Vedula

Not me,

but the glass bangle

jangling around my wrist.


I want to know,

do you still feel pain

when you are slammed

against linoleum floors?


Or when someone strokes you,

admires your jewel encrusted

syllables, the colors

of (y)our ancestry,

the way they glimmer

in sunlight.


Do you lurch,

bracing for the novelty

to rub off onto their fingers

like the golden glitter

once adorned around your edges?


Do you still

calculate the gravity

of the inevitable drop?

As you plummet do

you curse your careless

fragility, curse the burden

of being fraught in glass?


Do you hear yourself

scream when syllables

ooze out of

the cracks splintering

you into halves,

quarters, eighths?


At least those

are the shards

I can count

when


it is recess

it is the after-party

it is after introductions

it is at the restaurant

it is the assembly


it is

when it is just

you and me

and I am on my knees,

scooping your fragments

into the creamy

wells of my palms

and I wonder

what parts of you

will be left

behind this time,

won’t be swept

into oblivion by

the rough plastic

bristles of the

night janitor’s broom.


Do you know how I’ve

rebuilt you? How I’ve

held your jagged slivers

to moonlight, bathed you

in glue, clenched you in

my fists praying you

will stir in your slumber,

that your pieces will stick

together, that you’ll become

whole just one more time.


But I was not your savior.


Do you remember that time

you woke to the cackle of lightning,

of wet earth and rain? Because

what better wrist is there

than dirt? What better hollow

is there to hold the weight of your

letters? How else is there

to ensure you never tear

through the thin paper of human

hands. Like my own.


It was midnight when

mud stained my palms

like ink. Do you know

how I clawed through

pebble, clattered through

the bones of a hundred

mice to find you? Do

you know how I wept,

how every other crunch

echoed like yours?


It was dark. But do

you know how you

glimmered that night?

You were the emeralds,

the sapphires the diamonds

I plowed through to retrieve

you. How you reflected the

moonlight, how each of

your syllables glowed.


For the journey home

I stored you in the

cabinet of my heart.

I marveled at your

colors all over again

and at the beautiful

burden of carrying

something forged

in glass.




 

Pranavi Vedula is a sophomore at Phillips Exeter Academy. She is a winner of her school’s 2022 Lamont Younger Poets Prize, has been published twice by the Lune Spark Young Writer’s Short Story Contest, and has been recognized by the Scholastic Writing Awards. She serves as a member of the NH Teen Poets Laureate Team, a critic for the NH Flume and Isinglass Committee, and as an editor for her school’s advice blog. Catch her conjugating French verbs, watching too many movies, or riding her bike outside.

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