I smear my lips with red chili pepper,
Salivate between my short breaths.
Biting hard, the searing taste reassures me
Of iron within my dream of hot pursuit.
I wake up in a sweat,
Pour my head into a bucket of water.
Clamp down my nose and mouth
Counting one, two, three . . .
I stand upon my head,
Feel the welts on my soles.
Welts course through my brain and erupt.
A crown of thorns pierces my temples.
My thighs give way under the weight of bullets,
My first realization of how many layers pain can exist in.
But numbing as it is to try to live
In your body, to live what it lived, lives . . .
I wonder whether I have it in me
To some day see your body as only yours
And mine as mine alone.
But I don't want that, I don't
Want to be left alone.
It's pathetic, I know;
A sick mind makes the real absurd.
It scares me shit
To imagine that numbness.
How can I not follow you,
How can we not be in this
First published in Kashmir Lit, October 2014.