by Kanika Ahuja
after Carol Ann Duffy
I wonder what it means to bend
death, like holding my breath after
my lungs fill up with water.
Voluntary Apnea – a choice, an escape
route – is the moment before the lungs
give out. I give out the place next to
my lungs – my heart a rent free apartment
I’m too eager to sign the lease. You see,
I do not do well with people who leave, and
I know it does not do to dwell on dreams,
on the maybe’s of impossibilities, while
my hopes are tethered to a life raft
that does not have room for me. But I digress.
This is still supposed to read like an apology,
like a montage of all of life’s oddities I am yet
to touch. What I’m trying to say is, there
is peace in the moments after the lungs
give out. We give out pieces of our heart
hoping to find the piece that fits better,
only to wind up with tenants who stick
out like jagged ends. We will always feel
too tired, too ill fitting, too inconvenient
to hold on, but we do it anyway – dodge
death with a deep breath in, and another
for good luck. Good love feels like a glove
that keeps afloat even a drowning heart.
Oh lord, if life means life and nothing else,
let it at least sound crisp like the warmth
of a lighthouse, beckoning all this wreckage
Kanika Ahuja believes in the inexplicable joy of sunshines and smiles, hoarding verses on sticky notes in mason jars to be set free like paper boats on rainy days. Her work appears, or is forthcoming, at The Medley, Sidereal Magazine, and Airplane Poetry Movement’s Ultimate Poetry Anthology. She is based in New Delhi, India, and can be found on Twitter @kanika0326.