Negative space

Prerna Barooah

you know i’m my mother’s daughter because i will always look at the price of a thing before looking at the thing itself

Airbnbs, Bangtan concert tickets, cab rides, dead body freezers, Emily Dickinson’s

herbarium, flower pots damaged by a car reversing right onto them, garden management,

hysterectomies, incarceration, Jor Bagh houses, Kahlua and milk, love letters, mosquito

repellents, noise-cancelling headphones, old acquaintances, PhDs abroad, queerness, rat

traps, shaved heads, therapy, Uniqlo shirts, vacations, window seats on Indigo flights,

xeroxing pages outside campus copy-shops, youth as represented on film, zero self-imposed


quarantine ruined my perfect dyke haircut

Last June my mother cut my hair for the first time in ten years. I sat for three hours under her

careful hands, frayed burgundy locks falling to my right side and new black outgrowth on the

shorn side, trembling heavy queer body holding itself close and quiet—every breath clung to

my chest, afraid.

What would it take for the secrets to crash into the shared air between us like the large size

Act II ready-to-cook popcorn jammed into too tiny a pan, with no room to pop but outwards?

Her fingers rubbed down the bone behind my ears, tenderly brushing off clumps of hair stuck

to my sweat. I wondered if she could already tell she was touching something that had

changed irreparably past the point of her memory.

Later, the shower washed away the prickly ends itching my neck before the tear at corner of

my lips stopped stinging, salty.

She cut my hair again come October.

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