On Your Shrinking

you look at yourself in those mirrors on the walls of the bathrooms in the mall sideways now,
sucked-in cheeks, and I remember
that crop-top you bought, that crop-top, a scale for your chest and your waist, a promise
but you threw it out yesterday,
tag and all from the last eleven months because it took you a while,
a long chain of missed meals and feigned burps, to get there
and that cruel crop-top allowed, after eleven months of waiting and ‘controlling’,
allowed the moonlight to still dance with the new shiny stretch marks on your waist
the tag from the reject pile mocking you,
reflecting the number that you skipped ice-cream dates and pizza parties to save up,
to save up for this crop-top you dreamed you’d one day slay
what a shame, you invited the chain to choke you till you coughed your happiness away

every grumble in your stomach was a step away from this cage, a step towards ‘control’, a step full of pain, unimaginable pain, but
but, well, at least your jawline and your collarbones are now
nearly as sharp as the silver knife that offered you its company while you stared at your kitchen door with empty eyes
and turned your hollow torso away as it extended its warm, welcoming hand of friendship
with laboured ease

your fight wasn’t with your mum over the sugar in your cereal every breakfast every morning,
it wasn’t with your favourite cheesecake
you’re battling with your own body and your head,
they’re screaming as society triumphantly plays divide and rule and
you’re terrified and confused and just sit, crying, hoping
that the tears rolling down this little child’s cheeks will be enough
to shut both the sides up and have them retreat, or better,
make peace
just a child

fast forward four months, and hey, this is a weird feeling,
you’re seeing your ribs up close for the first time in your sixteen years of owning them
the lunch bell triiings in your nightmares every night and
you’ve now recognized that group of friends that doesn’t care about you enough to check what you’re eating,
whether you’re eating

maybe if you would just look at how your eyes become stars every time you smile,
you wouldn’t scold that little lock of hair beside your ear
for failing this once to cover up
the second little chin that makes an appearance every time
someone or something lights up your face
because your face lights up!
you are the sun.

look past, please, your stomach bulging over your belt,
and at the book that you bent over to pick up to give to the boy whose things those mean, mean girls and boys
knocked out of his arms,
look at his lips mouth thank you, thank you, you angel

your body, darling, is not you
those boys and girls, perhaps, whispered to your head to never be kind to you
but maybe you only need to be the beautiful, gorgeous person you are,
let your body feel as lucky to be your coat as you once felt unlucky to be its seed.
teach your body that it only encases the magic that is you
and has every reason to be so, so proud
you’re that many cubed centimetres more beautiful, concentrated.

Reasons To Stay Alive

Best friends. Paperclips. Post-its. Piano. To travel. Purple notebooks. To learn to play the violin. And the cello. Paper Valentine’s roses. The smell of vanilla. Stars. Sunlight. Sunrises. Sunsets. Clouds. Paperclip hearts. Rain. Music. Cats. Dogs. Math. Cheesecake. Strawberry cheesecake ice-cream. To ice-skate. Doughnuts. Krispy Kreme. Emails. Octopuses. Shooting stars. Blogs. The moon. The night. Peanut butter and banana milkshakes. Nutella crepes. New York City. Brown University. Paul Rudd. Matt Haig. Pool Jump. Trust Fall. Pancakes. Hiking. Drama. Tents. Mangoes. Summer. Loose tees. Black tees. Adam Sandler movies. Shoes. Listening. Lele Pons videos. The smell of laundry. The smell of ironed clothes. Drive-in cinema. Leg-haemoglobin. Bubble wrap. Plastic ruler rainbows. Thunder. Lightning. Dark nights. Lists. Petrichor. Dew drop sundaes. Camp. Karl von Frisch. Banana fritters. Bathrooms. Thermocol. Skipping stones. Perfect Day. Rare gems. To visit the Roseville Cemetery. Autumn colours. Cheese fondue and chocolate fondue. Tiles. Knees. Flyovers. Rubber bands. Sangria. Dawn. Hair getting in people’s way. Fairylights. Wooden flooring. Wedding rings. Wedding gowns. Arguments. Construction sites. Making notes. To set foot in Antarctica. The length of this post. Spanish accents. Yellowing newspaper articles. Shiny things. Polaroids. Ravioli. Pizza. 12 AM. Saying “It’s tomorrow”. Tea plantations. Exclamation marks! Tummies. Mumma’s sandwiches. Black ink. Lighthouses. Bubbles. Massages. Harry Potter. Cards. Neon lights. Birthdays. Letters. Kisses. Hugs. Movie-like hugs. Books. New books. Old books. Feeding animals in the zoo. Bathroom singing. Turtles. Holding hands. White sauce pasta. Mud. The smell of furniture. Packing. City lights. Brown paper packages. To drive an auto. Baking. Frisbees. Lab coats. Flight take-offs. Aeroplane views. Biscuit factories. Helicopters. Cruises. Bokeh effect. Straight collars. Capital letters. Gardening. Words. TV shows. To visit Bali again. Surfing. Tiger. Crushes. Peeling stickers off perfectly. To name my future dog Pig. Dreams. Ukuleles. The word negligible. Pebbles. Formaldehyde. Lullabies. To clean my cupboard. Puffed-up cheeks. Kiwi. Selfies. That church in Lyon. Ice-cream sandwiches. Visits from friends in the UK. Windows. Forehead kisses. Kinetic theory. Drawing on my back. Phone calls. Chopin. Sarees. Food at Indian weddings. School. Blurry photos. Mitochondria. Whining. Crying. Biomolecules. Last days. First days. Bridges. Castles. Analog watches. British accents. Reese Witherspoon. Emma Watson. Underwear in solid colours. Driving. The Northern Lights. South Korea. To meet Chris. Puerto Vallarta. Wives. Husbands. Secret admirers. Flames. Curly hair. Chocos. Diaries. Small bottles. Folding clothes. Dolls. To earn a license to cook pufferfish. Miniature things. Music boxes. Cheese frankies. Schubert’s Serenade. Bus rides. Hugs. Hugs. Snow. Oversized jackets. Warm fingers. Sweat. Sea shells. 10 rupee coins. Falling asleep to the sound of waves. Falling asleep. Swingsets. Spell bees. Head-pats. Pillows. Blankets. Lanterns. Docks. Umbrellas. Lame jokes. Tea with Parle-G. Needing to update this list multiple times. Margot Robbie. Ionic Equilibrium. Angels. Shoulder blades. Red velvet cupcakes. Hearts. Cake pops. Tiny tattoos. Twix. Sketches. Paint. Elastic collisions. m&ms. In the bathtub. Brown m&ms. Trophies. Medals. Smiles. Real smiles. Lip-biting smiles. Glass factories. Coconut ice-cream with roasted cashew nuts. In a coconut shell. 7. 13. Marbles. Monday mornings. College research. Views. Lakes. Disney. Walks. Parks. Footpaths. Cheese quesadillas. Magic. Chalk. Wax statues. Reflections. Mitosis slides. Socks. The blue dress from Cinderella. Poetry. Because the other option isn’t flexible. Pop Tarts. Giggles. Pollax pens. Puffcorn. Being right. Feeling loved. Scribbling over sigma symbols. Skipping. Romantic Era music. Quotes. Old sheet music. Bedsheets. Cycling. Colouring books. Baby photos. Sandcastles. Cream cheese frosting. Radha. Terraces. Ladders. Diwali. Otsukimi. Kyoto. Ramen. Maggi. Notebook shopping. Girls in shorts. Alex Turner. Elaine Bradley. Slide-making. Video games. Linguistics. China Cove. White wallabies. Subway cookies. Train tracks. Melting crayons. Laughing. Melted chocolate. Dark chocolate. Wristbones. Lemon lava cakes. Starry skies. Candlelight dinners. Love. Darkness. Light-ness. Bad things. Good things. A lot of things.