By Ritiksha Sharma


My father’s book of spells
was always one page short of discovery
                                               and miracles,

for we caught it one day; scraping away 
                                                its own skin;

falling epidermis, sloughing and shedding,
                           exhausted under the force 

of handwritten notes; poor thing was 
always heavier than the day before;

that is even when we tore away 
                    the footnotes every weekend.

But my father wasn’t angry with it at all.
He said “it was for the best, to let go  
                                        of some grudges, to heal”

So I wondered what spells he wrote about
                                          that he couldn’t 

let go by himself; had to have them expunged instead.
I shouldn’t have but I did, sneak 
                           in a quick peek.
All pages were empty of ink; I was exasperated. 
It seems secrets don’t reveal themselves 
                                      until they trust you
Told them “like father like daughter”; let me 
let go of some grudges against him, 
                                               let me heal;
Then in the absence of a quill, I discovered 
a miracle. The book wrote back to me.
It said: “when evil plucks at your mind, 
it should tear at your bones and sockets;

but it won’t. Instead your hair will split at the scalp”
It turns out; somehow I had cast a spell on myself. 
                                              And there were no footnotes.

Now evil must pluck at my bones and body,
for the hair on my head snaps 
                                   away in protest. 

Lately I have even taken to absently pulling
                                                  at what’s left 

of hair tucked behind ear clefts 
                                         like torn tapestry. 

Sun burnt at the ends; it’s splitting from the scalp 
like a lover scorned: chasing irrevocable separation.
In the palm of my hand it’s tangled of its own will.
Hugging the skin, strands gyrating around my index
finger: cutting losses, tossing me away.

Yesterday I wished for enough yester days,
archived in some ostentatious museum; 
                                                my totem to uncast the spell.
Because I had touched the top of my head 
                                       And it was empty; I was exasperated again.

Picked up a quill and wrote on my scalp:
“I have been shedding hair from my head”

Now I am all out of skins over there. 
I wonder when I would be done healing.

My father put his hand on my bald head
I discovered that all grudges were gone 
                                               except the one between us.

He still loved me anyways.
And I let him.

like I knew you would disappear today

cause if I did I wouldn’t have picked up
your suit from the dry cleaner’s
It is hanging in the closet, burning a hole, 
maybe its going to pull a Shawshank Redemption on me;
kind of like you did.

Strangely, I can still feel the pressure on my ponytails
from where u tucked at them last night
I wanted to cut them; would have, 
but u buried me in our bed under your side of the sheets,


Touching me on both sides of my thighs, ghost fingers around me
The wrinkles of the sheet feel much better over me
than the weight of my body over the mattress would
For I think we broke the spring that one time in November.

And now its past two springs since; 
I can’t even remember where you kept the wedding ring 
from your previous marriage, the one that fell apart,
to a woman you loved three days out of seven.

My sister said you must have taken it with you 
when you took ours off; I think it might be back when
you saw your ex standing on the ceiling upside down;
our very first night in this house.

I don’t want to be the woman 
you made love to every other time,
in the four days out of ten you didn’t see your 
ex-wife’s ghost pressed up against the ceiling.

So, I am learning that empty beds can hug you back, 
broken springs can unbreak themselves, 
and rings can walk out on their own;
from the room we shared, the house we owned, 
the same way you did. 

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