Poetry by Sanjana Bijlani

Pink gingham

afternoons at the hospital are almost nice
last showing of sunlight at the outdoor canteen
before everyone else files in for visiting hours
sisters & strangers sitting shoulder to shoulder
all of us one white-coat confirmation away from
dissolving into antiseptic air we breathe as one
& I am almost unafraid of being wrecked in public
while waiting for my turn I read the warning
over eyebrows & arms locked in parallel lines
don’t make a scene don’t cry this isn’t about you
I am told that my grief is the least practiced at loss
loyalty means I should not be noticeably moved
by the latticework of veins & tubes garlanding your neck
the nurses’ choice of two plaits & a pink gingham gown
a glimpse of summer in the dead of winter
this is how I know they are preparing you
to return to a girl I have only heard about in stories
as expected there is a part of me that dissolves
the rest remaining so I can hold your hand a little longer
same cold that skipped a generation & became mine
same whisper of life in the inner secret of our wrists
when the security guard shuffles close behind
we both know that I’ll smile with two thumbs up
one last guiltless lie for everyone outside
who needs your comfort more than I do
who needs you to live longer than you do

 

Sanjana Bijlani’s writing is rooted in the Indian diaspora and navigating diasporic belonging and cultural memory through poetry, mix tapes, and conversations.