salt in an empty sea
you make my chest hurt like salt in an empty sea.
the words climb up my throat but i slam my tongue over them, desperate to keep them down.
i cannot let you hear this.
but still it leaks through my teeth
and makes its way to you.
i don’t want to remember how i thought you made me feel. i urge the memories back into their respective kennels but it doesn’t. work.
the only way to purge myself of them- of you- is this.
is to write.
so i write.
i write what i cannot tell you, what i cannot tell myself, what i cannot tell anyone.
doris lessing, the original hound of heaven that once commandeered the attic, said fiction is the way to memorialize that which never was. my seventeen years have been just that- snowdrift accumulations of that which should’ve been or could’ve been or might’ve been but ultimately. never was.
is it any wonder then, that i write?
this is simply my way of bailing out my sinking ship. of subconsciously telling myself that i, the midnight tremor- i, the golden coin of summer- am only human.
i admit to myself that come spring i will be in love again.
i also admit that i will be wrong about this love.
but as life comes i live it,
and i write it,
and i cherish it:
in the empty sea.
Salt in an Empty Sea
Poetry/Prose: a collection about love and other illnesses
For All Ages
Author: Vaidehi Bhardwaj
Vaidehi decided at age twelve that everyone had to share her stomachaches, and has been scribbling in notebooks since then. She is a three-time winner of Reflections, and received an honorary mention in the ARCHER Coalition Contest. She attends the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia, with her tortoise, Sheldon--who, just like her, is partial to blueberries, mangos, and milk chocolate. You can find her @devi.jindal on Instagram, or reach out to her via email at email@example.com.
I consider myself an outgoing and extroverted person, with strong public-speaking and interpersonal skills. I enjoy playing my viola, reading, baking when the mood strikes me, words, friends, and Words with Friends.
Salt in an Empty Sea would be a wonderful addition to Trident's published works. Although as a book of poetry and prose, it is markedly different than Trident's other works, this only means that the book would provide the opportunity for Trident to expand into a new genre, expanding their audience and submissions.
Salt in an Empty Sea provides a new perspective on love- through the lens of a girl experiencing it and maturing with it. In addition, it does not only examine traditional concepts of romantic love- the book deals with ideas of familial love, love for a home, self-love, and a multitude of other concepts that are often overlooked in traditional "love poetry." Additional references to the intersections of ethnic background and love, as well as love in digital spaces, adds a layer of complexity and nuance to the collected works.
things we would prefer to forget
it sometimes scares me,
how the air of my chosen country can smell like the one i left behind-
the smoky-sweet aroma of burning yams,
the impatient crush of too many earthen bodies,
and the sting of petrol fumes.
it makes me wonder if we are really as different as we pretend we are. if we really leave behind as many things as we pretend to, strapped into suitcases and duffel bags.
it makes me wonder if there are things we don’t like to remember.
i speak of the old country with pride, with nostalgia, with gentle love.
my parents speak of it with fear. with light disdain. with condescension. as if living in the land of the white man has absolved them of the responsibility to their roots.
i wonder what they would remember if they touched this tender wind.
i wonder what they would try to forget.
question the first
the question of “searching for a road to follow.”
the question haunts me often- most doggedly in mitski’s ‘francis forever,’ in which I am often inclined to replace the line “i’ve been trying to lay my head down” with this one of my own invention- “i’ve been searching for a road to follow.” the rest of the phrase accommodates my substitution actually quite nicely- “i don’t know what to do without you / i don’t know where to put my hands / i’ve been searching for a road to follow / but i’m writing this at 3 a.m.”
and so, the question remains.
why- from where- did i choose this line?
it carries a sense of eerie familiarity, but i have never wanted to probe the matter further- possibly for fear of discovering that someone before me has already made every connection i have.
after all, nothing under the sun is new.
the question grabbed me by the shoulders once again in my perusal of joan didion’s “the year of magical thinking.”
her desperate struggle for the straight and narrow- studiously avoiding every object, place, memory, recollection that might lead her back- back into a divot of her own imagination- the sullied road of grief and mourning, as opposed to the socially-sanitized ‘healing.’
a teatime objective. finally alright- finally safe- to air the corridors of grievance for the public eye.
she quietly shuts off every water main- every breaker- that could lead her back to the mansion of memory that is john.
the question still hovers.
she learns which thoughts are safe and which are not. she learns to avoid sunset boulevard in california and the bend across the pond in central park.
she donates sweaters, books, fine china.
she searches diligently for the road to follow.
but she does not donate his shoes.
perhaps the road has failed her.
perhaps the road was altogether something else- it kept her off ledges and bridges and that could be enough.
is the road to follow grief? is it closure? is the road the metaphor or the objective? what of following it? how will we know which road and when? is the search for the road to follow, the road itself?
the question peers through my eyes.
“searching for a road to follow.”
a road. not the road. any road. any crumb of foam to keep us afloat in our empty seas.
C.S. Lewis, following his wife’s death, said of his thoughts- “so many roads once; now so many cul de sacs.”
“francis forever” is on the radio. the question follows in my footsteps. fumbled words like a toddler first learning to write.
“i’ve been searching for a road to follow.
i end up on a tree-lined street.
i look up through the gaps of sunlight.
i miss you more than anything.”