Gaia Rajan

Blind Turn

Esther is my best friend and she says maybe we can go to the sixth grade formal together if her mom says yes. She gives me her Jesus charm under the swings. She has four lizards. Our one sleepover at her house I was awake the whole time because her lizards kept rattling in their cages. Esther talks for us both. She just got her appendix out and she says I should too so we can switch appendixes. Nothing that bad’s ever really happened to me. Esther says my heartbreak is psychosomatic. I say don’t use words you don’t know. I think I want to only wear big sunglasses. I want to only wear black sequins. I want to trap everyone I love in a long hallway. In June Esther and I stand at the edge of the road holding our thumbs out because Esther says this is how you get to New York. She sticks her tongue out at passing drivers and I say knock it off. Three hours in we smell fire. We look down the road and then there’s a car and smoke rising from its body and then it turns over and over and over on its belly like a seal.




We met on the highest floor, past the pelican statue. Start from the beginning he said. He leaned back fiscally. The desk was oak. There was no food in my kitchen at home. His office was full of round things. He must have a stiff wife. The rug was blue or black maybe. I've seen a burning barn split on its ridge and traced my mother's curving spine. I should have brought gloves. On the forms I knew to write her name instead of my own. It had been hours I think. I told him. The act of retelling evokes an autopsy. The act of retelling provokes decay. He had a spotty face like a film photograph. The sunset was brief. I used tidy verbs because I had nothing to hide. I spoke prepositionally. It could have been damp. He tapped his oxfords on the round rug. There was a space on the armchair that had been rubbed smooth. This I remember. He offered me tea. There was a bobblehead on his desk and I could smell the metallic space between its head and its neck.



Blur Atlas

I fell in love with a surveillance camera. We met on Tinder. Six hours later I was drunk in her apartment. She memorized my back. She memorized my knuckles. We spent hundreds at Dave and Busters. We signed a year lease. We traded right eyes and winked at each other hollow and hungry at hotel check in desks. She gave me a necklace engraved with my own grainy face. My hair grew out and she cut it exactly as it was. Factory reset, she said, sweeping clouds from the tile. Years we sat in our shoebox listening to each other breathe. Our fifth anniversary she takes me to Applebee's. We eat fires. We tip hundreds. We go to a houseparty and tell the same jokes to different people. They've cracked the window to let in the moonlight and everyone is crying all over each other. We walk dripping to the nearest streetlight. She says she has a gift for me. We crouch on the curb and then every light in the house turns on. In high-res we watch the visionaries and thieves and operatists bite each other's necks and smoke and sing. Watch them blink red-eyed and coughing and speckled with incantation. We do our best sphinx cat. We do our best archangel. We do our best work when we're not looking at each other.



Gaia Rajan is the author of the chapbooks Moth Funerals (Glass Poetry Press 2020) and Killing It (Black Lawrence Press 2022). Their work is published or forthcoming in Best New Poets, the Best of the Net anthology, The Kenyon Review, THRUSH, Split Lip Magazine, and elsewhere. They live in Pittsburgh and online at @gaiarajan on Twitter or Instagram.