Apples Rot in KashmirUnpicked apples rot in the orchards of Kashmir: what were once hopeful white promises now cling to the branches, refusing to let go, curdled tumors that no one wants to eat. I once saw a blooming apple tree years ago, mistaking it for a tree bride, smothered as it was in layers of radiant lace. I never wondered about its groom, though. The snow must now be gradually inching down the Himalayas while the rivers fossil into glaciers, resigned to ice imprisoning their laughter. Will the apple trees still prepare for spring even though an endless winter beckons? Will they still dutifully prepare to birth despite knowing it may all be for nothing? A dark, sweet nauseating fragrance colors the air: it is the smell of countless apple funerals. But the stubborn tree still dares to dream anyway: for having survived the miracle of mere existence, this darkness is but a wintering chapter, that one day has no choice but to surely end. ***
All Storms are Invisible at FirstThe red roses burn inside a bottle-green bowl: the sun is a peach scar, a flattened comet, really, underscoring the bruised sky. Who then would have guessed that there was a storm hiding within, waiting to take flight? ***
A Lost Girl in a Shikara in Dal LakeThe air is cool, wet, green. Someone up there is learning watercolors: the art of anointing color upon water, water upon color. A girl is lost, though, marooned in a world that can no longer be found on a map. The shikhara-walla is praying: his prayers softly fall into the water, sacred words seeking refuge among tiny fish and reeds and drowned desires. The girl has never ever felt so desolate: can a lake be a desert too? A shikara-wali ploughs the lake, serene and stern. She might be singing but it is hard to tell from the distance. An eagle shimmies above the water, its claws tearing through the soft, shapeless skin, leaving behind gifts of wounds. In a fraction of a moment, the lake becomes a fractured thermometer, bleeding mercury everywhere. The girl shutters her eyes, consigning herself to darkness: when they finally open, she knows now it has been she who has been singing all along. ***
Priyanka Sacheti is a Bengaluru-based writer. She has been published in numerous publications with a special focus on art, gender, diaspora, and identity. Her literary work has appeared in The Brown Orient, Barren, Berfrois, The Lunchticket, and Jaggery Lit as well as various anthologies. She's currently working on a poetry collection. She explores the intersection of her writing and photography at Instagram:@anatlasofallthatisee. She tweets @priyankasacheti1.
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