You told me I was born to be loved. That I clawed out of the womb like a wild thing, slick with my father’s breath and the first smell of rain. We were alone, you and I, woven into one another, limbs trembling like sky before storm. At night, you taught me that men were mountains as we curled up in Everest's maw. Coiled your fingers through mine, weathered water on pearl; explained that the grooves in my palms were ley lines, my eyes streetlights igniting wasteland. The valleys of your hips were carved by rivers. So, open your mouth, catch the monsoon like a lightning bug -- the watered are never broken. When the rains arrived, we danced until we drowned, watched as our sisters’ headscarves disappeared between pooled lesions. Remember the rain, like gunshots, bell-tied ankles jangling in the crossfire. We forget now, in the dim light of dawn, how we flinched at thunder, cowered in mountain’s shadow, wept on the swollen tongue of a beast untamed. Mama, you watched me grow legs and cross an ocean. You swore it wouldn’t rain here, but my eyes are smoked with water. Mama, forgive me, as I gaze slack-jawed into the mouth of a behemoth. You told me I was born to be loved.
Nikita Bhardwaj is an Indian-American writer and student from New Jersey. She is an Iowa Young Writers’ Studio student whose work is published or forthcoming in the Eunoia Review, Oddball Magazine, and It’s Real Magazine, among others. She enjoys volleyball and long walks in beautiful places.