Dear O—

Vandana Khanna | Poetry

Maybe it began before the oracles even
opened their mouths. Before I stank

of sea and the past. Before the bees woke
and considered swarming. When the oracles

asked me to picture a man, you appeared,
dragging that boat through my dreams.

After, I measured every hour by nautical
miles, faulty math. I was the wife who

always forgot to carry the one. When they
asked me to name him, I did think about

forever then. How wearying to be a rose-
colored bride for twenty years, bound to set

any girl’s teeth on edge. In your long absence,
I’ve learned. Not every man is a cartography

of need. Sacrifice is overrated but no one
tells you how to get out of it. I only thought

of trading up once. Stone-faced and sweet-wined,
I missed the purr of adoration low and animal

in the throat. A little honey on those bitter nights.
I barely made it to morning with my cotton heart intact.