Uma Dwivedi

Aubade with the Bleeding Sky

I scrape the night with my long nails
and the dark flakes off like paint. I am left
with the new day, in which my blood is half

wine and I am singing a song no one
knows the words to. It is morning, after all.
It is dawn and everyone I have wanted

is still underneath my fingernails, still stuck
between my teeth. I listen to my voicemails
as I stutter through the sunrise streets & it's you

again, your tongue on my ear, asking, do you know
what I mean?
Baby, don’t ask this of me. No.
I don't know. I want to put my head

through a wall. Don’t worry about it, though,
don’t worry about me, I will find my way
home, even like this, even starving, starving even

with your skin still caught in my mouth. So drunk
I look at the sky and think it is bleeding. It is only
the sun, but I am still singing a funeral song.

The day is breaking like skin, I think.
I think, none of us will come out clean from the red rain.
But it is only morning. I know what you meant

when you said that no one really wants
what is good for them. The people are waking now,
cooking their eggs. At night, I fancy myself the good,

unwanted thing, but it is dawn now & to you,
I am no one. I wanted love, so I opened my mouth,
but you pressed a finger to my lips & I know

I am meant to swallow all this down, the song &
desire, the blood just like wine, the dream
of eggs in the morning & all that rain,

but I will not swallow today. Your name a pearl
I hold on my tongue for just one day more.
Mouth full of love enough to live on.



Mama & I Talk About Salvation

& was it always this way? was I always this monster wreathed in rain, creature from the darkest parts of sky? Mama tells a different story. Me, young cheek pressed to wounded earth, altar in my closet to cracked dinner plates. Mama remembers me at sunset, when I didn’t sing for fear my voice would break. Mama thinks those were the good days.

The lake ripples & I slide along the surface like the flat of a blade along a rabbit’s flank. My heavy jaw, this violent coiled tongue. & what could I say? Mama, tell me about the lake before it trembled. Mama, please help me. Mama, take me back to the good days.

Mama is quiet as a shadow. Mama pulls a can of Sprite from her purse and pops the tab. Mama takes a pull & I pull my jacket closer. I am drunk on the distance between us, how it fits in my mouth. I want to open all the windows in every room I enter because there is too much I can’t survive alone. & what now? I’ve let in the rain, but I won’t let it touch me.

& who do I give the catalogs of all the ways in which I’ve bruised? Mama’s skin is thin as a dream. I close my eyes & ask the water to drag me deep. I don’t speak, and Mama tells me what I know, that this is not the same as before. Says there are different kinds of absence. Mama tells me I have not been saved.

Mama, I don’t know what I am doing. Mama, I am waving a hammer in the dark & hoping to hit somebody. Mama, I don’t mean to hurt anyone, but it’s been so long since I’ve had proof I’m not alone. & what good would another body do me? I still won’t swallow light.

I want to see the sky. I want to know this thing that made me. Maybe, then, it will not be my fault
when water touches me & I flinch away. I want to pluck feathers from the sky until my cruelty is something I can measure with my hands. Mama takes another sip, purses her lips. Mama says I am being unreasonable. Mama thinks she’s always right. & why shouldn’t she? Didn’t she tell me I would die?



Uma Dwivedi is a rising junior at Yale University. They are originally from Seattle, Washington. They have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Black Warrior Review, and other previous and forthcoming publications include Muzzle Magazine, the minnesota review, and the Jellyfish Review. Dancing girl press released their first chapbook, They Named Her Goddess (we called her girl), in January of 2019. Catch them watching Winnie the Pooh or the Paddington movies.