Anika Prakash


Here: what is mine is yours. We sit on your faded
           suede couch in crumbling suburbia & watch

the same VHS tape over & over. Here: what is old
           will kill us. The video is grainy & barely there. You

clutch your hand in your hand & I watch your
           knuckles whiten, the screen a static backdrop

against the liquid murkiness between us. Here: I
           don’t know how much you remember of the lake,

the fog, your body sinking blue & wrinkled. The
           windows just less tragic prisms projecting light

across the shadows of our faces. The night became
           the brightest part of us. The stars melted into

uncertainty, clouding our vision. Here: if I push you
           into a bathtub of ice cold water, will it feel the same?

I’ve filled it & drained it, pressed my cheek against
           the porcelain and tried to imagine what you felt,

your body dissolving into water, your limbs flailing
           as if it wasn’t your own fault you were stuck beneath

a sheet of ice, no way to shatter that hyperpixelated
           TV screen without taking an axe to it. Your hands

were crimson & purple, your cheeks concave against
           your face. Here: I don’t like to write about you—

this nightmare, this silence. I don’t like to admit that I
           sat shivering in the snow by the bank, thinking it was

all just a dream. Here: we’ve been gone for a while
           now. I’m lost in apology, you’re still stuck behind

that screen. The couch looks the same on both sides
           & I hope you’re watering the wildflowers in your

kitchen. Sometimes we stare at each other for too long
           & then I smash my fists against the TV. Here: there’s

only a hairline crack in the corner but my hands are
           bandaged & bloody. Here: my life turned linear,

a singular path between the bathtub & the living
           room. Here: there’s an axe in the garage for the day

I can’t stand the sight of you anymore. Here: the
           windows are frosted with ice & the house has a layer

of frozen dust. Here: It is my turn to turn off the receiver,
           clutch my hand in my hand & lace my fingers together.

Here: I let my body become swollen & empty against a January night.



Anika Prakash is a senior in high school and the editor-in-chief of Red Queen Literary Magazine. Her poetry has been recognized by The Adroit Journal, Scholastic Art & Writing, and the Writers' Theatre of New Jersey, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in a Platypus Press anthology, Red Paint Hill, Noble Gas Qtrly, Hobart, The Ellis Review, and Glass, among others.