When I am alone, I am never truly alone. 
There are many things I must become
to give up my memory to a page.
I begin as a hound, stealthy and hunkering.
I chase a tail that is mine, but which I can never 
truly have. The key here is not what I find, 
but how long I may sustain a fruitless quest &
how much it takes to become an endless
circle. I next become a spider. I spin silk
to cure my loneliness, adding word
by word to a page until I have thousands
of creatures to keep me company.
Like a starfish, I lose a part of myself
before it comes back fuller than ever:
a stomach that returns like Mother Bird
with food to douse emptiness.
To write is to flesh out. To roll back
the skin beneath my eyes and trace an empty 
waterline. To transform the naked eye—
not with a telescope,
but with a firm reassurance of the eye’s own 
shape. How jealous we must be of pufferfish: 
empty in one second, full in the next. 
For a pufferfish, to be visceral 
is to handle poison. To know what I am 
made of and still treat myself with care.

Uma Menon is a seventeen-year-old author from Winter Park, Florida. Her debut book, Hands for Language, was released by Mawenzi House in 2020. She is the 2019-2020 Youth Fellow for the International Human Rights Art Festival and attends Princeton University. Read more at theumamenon.com.

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Published in the January 2021 issue: View Contents
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