Illustration by Corinne James.

Illustration by Corinne James.

Winter Burning

When I was younger, my little sister and I
would lay on our backs, our stomachs,
pool like warm wells
insulated by snow and blubber and boots,
run, make disfigured snow angels,
a mountain-like snowman that never got the memo
that snowmen were shaped like spheres,
crowd behind a papery snow-fort, throw
snowballs like pearls: sparingly, sparingly
using towels to clean up the icicles
on the inside of our sleeves, the snow jammed
down our socks
Snow burning, a sweet phenomenon
This was only meant to be

My breath is thick on the glass
When we were little, my sister and
I would make up stories in the
condensation, on the leather
car seats, on the backs of our necks
My mother tells us that we are Indians,
Dravidians, not built for weather
Livid with heat a at the dawn of every snowfall,
light, like powder, dusting rooftops,
lacing on eyelashes, wiping the solemn
tears of flora, turning it to frost
I was made for mangos, for guavas,
for dry heat and wetter weather

I see my face in the reflection of the mirror
Damp, blotted, mascara running
A cold sore, pruned fingers,
bleeding acne here, a Pulitzer there,
right above my eyebrow, raised,
perplexed and quizzing
A Pulitzer, dusted, demure in the back corner,
pensive and waiting with crossed legs
and tapping fingernails
A Pulitzer, crossed with barbed wire and
chains, waiting, braced with pepper-spray
I force my toes into socks,
zinged by static electricity
and a slap in the face

By Vriddhi Vinay