i like silks, but i will not spend that cash!
i proclaim, the cold gash of water lapping
at my tumescent feet. it is night, and my only
company now is the fumes of sweat and the near
distant frisson of burnt okra. my arid skin is
dewy, and my eyes are glass. i see
so deeply now. the image is inverted outside,
and nothing refracts at all. it is as it is. i
am now a baby, this street is a callous witness. i am
grumpy. i smell salt. i note that i didn’t know salt had an
odor. but maybe i’m ill. habana edges
on the water, but i spend nights on the malecon,
dreading the rocks below. young, daring men leap
into the air, past the jagged crust, in perfect arcs
they land as fishes. how must it feel, that slicing into water,
and not death. they do not demonstrate to impress, but we
are all impressed. peacocks are always beautiful, even if
their beauty is not for us. you do not know thirst
until it bores a hole in your gullet and you forget how
to drink. intoxicated, a boy braids my hair. he rips some out and
demands payment. the sorrow i feel in my return is familial
to that i felt while there, claro!, the fish was good, and liberation
felt like a heavy memory we passed around in our palms

Niti Nayak