closer to home

Dhwanee Goyal

let’s set a scene: every past version of yourself
bubbles in your mouth like treachery. they take 

your hands and give you a shadow 
as compensation. you stand in front of an audience 

and only hear how they scream at each other. 
the places you’ve stitched onto your tongue are 

aconite, and in the night when the air conditioner 
rattles, you see faces sinking into each other. 

dear diary. day one. take whatever. you run and run.
plastic chafing your skin. little lady, little limbs,

a little speech. slowly, you peel off the congealed 
plaster and drag it to the garden, to all the people 

you don’t know. there will be no funeral, no last 
rites. you draw lines of all the guilt and guile they 

spoke about, a little child’s voice saying chaand! chaand
there’s a no parking sign, an empty lot, and you’ve

got a friend. she asks you when was the last time
you felt like this, and you’re sitting in the mirror, 

no hand, no fight, no friend. she doesn’t smile. she 
can’t. there’s a playground nearby, and god knows 

how you felt there, thinking too hard about the 
physics of falling and laying there on the ground of 

the city you built. the birds nibbling at your earlobe 
and the clouds smiling, your things unrusted, 

a racetrack before you. 
you take off and don’t stop.

closer to home was first published in Claw & Blossom.

Dhwanee Goyal (she/her) is a sixteen-year-old student from Maharashtra, India. An editor-in-chief of Indigo Literary Journal, her work appears or is forthcoming in Claw & Blossom, Cabinet of Heed, Kissing Dynamite, and more. Her Twitter handle is @pparallell, and her micro-chapbook, ‘Kasauli Daydreams,’ is out from Ghost City Press. She will attend Adroit’s mentorship program and Iowa Young Writers’ Studio this summer.