Submissions open for Wingword Poetry Prize 2020

Charred

Prisha Tiwari

Smoke filled my lungs.
My eyes burnt, tears streaming down my cheeks involuntarily.
The plastic burnt with a stinging smell, setting my lungs ablaze.
I stood still, unmoved by the torturous stimuli around me.
I was numb.
The coarse, off-white paper curled over itself as it slowly turned brown.
Then black.
Then finally into grey ash, rising and falling back down.
The Cover took time to burn; it was resilient.
It tried its best to protect the inner valuables from the scorching heat of the fire,
But it gradually gave in.
The bright green eventually turned black, merging with the colour of the hand-painted doodles on top of it.
I had burnt one year of my life.
The room smelled of ash.
And every breath I took seemed to carry the words I had penned down in that diary.
The happiness, the sorrows, the angst, the passion.
Every emotion that I had enclosed with the Indigo ink of my pen, now seemed liberated.
The tears that streamed down my face involuntarily?
They weren’t because of the smoke.
It was the vexation caused by the end of an era.
The unsettling realization that I would never be able to relive those memories again.
The fire engulfed all of it.
The waves moved about in front of my eyes, ridiculing me, mocking my decisions.
I clutched your letters in my hands.
Indecisiveness took over me once again.
With my lungs on fire and my heart in pain, I convinced myself that I wouldn’t get a better chance.
The imperious flames seemed to challenge me.
It was as if they didn’t believe I could do it.
I closed my eyes.
Partially to soothe the soreness, partially because I was incapable of seeing it happen.
I opened my palms and let a part of you fall into the ravenous fire.
It was gone in the blink of an eye.
The fire burnt with a newfound ardour.
Just like the ardour with which you had written those letters to me.
But soon that passion died, as if reflecting yours.
But this time the death of that passion had left me with a lighter heart.
I opened my palms and let a part of you fall into the ravenous fire.
Tears still streamed down my face involuntarily, but this time, they were tears of joy
Because that was the last part of you I had kept with myself.
I opened the window of my room and I saw the toxic smoke slithering out, slowly.
I had let you go.


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