“The Girl in The Photograph” and other poems by Shreya Barua

|The Girl in The Photograph|

I’ll take you by the hand
and show you what it’s like
to sit under neon signs
when the city goes to sleep
and you’ll have known
a little bit more
about what magic looks like
I’ll take you by the lips
and show you what it’s like
to taste the snowflakes
I caught on my tongue
and you might get to know
a lot bit more
about what dreams feel like
I’ll take you to places
you’ll forget to remember
I’ll show you things
your eyes won’t believe
until you start to wonder
if I am real;
if any of it is

So, I’ll let go of your hand
one final time
break away from your lips
one last time
wrap all the magic and dreams
around your little finger
and go back to being
the girl in the photograph

|Syria’s Daughter|

I am Syria’s daughter.
I will soon be just as forgotten as my name is.

And when they come for me
rummaging through heaps of concrete,
sifting through blood and bones
looking for bodies
to add to their death toll,
tell them I tried.
Tell them I tried to live.

Tell them
That I tried to breathe the poison that swirls across my country like a midsummer’s breeze
That I tried to match my heartbeat to the gunfires on the street so that I wouldn’t bite my lip
too hard out of fear
That I tried to sleep but my ears rang from the haunted screams that echoed all the way
from Damascus to Aleppo
That I tried to find a piece of land to bury my brother, his pale mouth still lined with blood
he’d been coughing for hours, but they had their guns ready for anything that moved
That I tried to shed tears when my father died in my arms but I couldn’t because my eyes
were as parched as my throat
That I tried.

Tell them I tried.
Tell them I tried to live while they slashed open my land till the cracks brimmed over
with the blood of my people.
Tell them they won.

I was Syria’s daughter.
Tell them that they can now have my mother.

|Victim’s Curse|

Last night
I found a girl murdered on the streets
and while her body grew cold
against the slush laden concrete
They wondered
if death had finally caught up,
having been beckoned time and again
by the dozen healed slits across her wrist
They checked
for signs of struggle
leaving room for doubt
that if she didn’t fight back
she was probably asking for it
They took
samples of her blood,
checking for drugs
because one less junkie off the streets
was no harm done
They rummaged
through her phone
looking for signs of provocation
since one shouldn’t make enemies
if they can’t afford to
They examined
the knife jutting out of her abdomen,
blood curdled around it
making sure that it wasn’t in fact her
who had somehow found a way
to twist it through her insides

Last night
I found a girl murdered on the streets
and it was sad
that I felt happy
about her not being alive
to witness that she was robbed of her life
in a world
where the tag of a victim
came with a price to be paid
and where dying
just wasn’t enough

|Serenading Through A Broken Heart|

I know now what people mean when they say that they can feel their heart breaking

I know because I am breaking yours
and I can see the anguish with which
your pupils dilate when you look at me.
You unflinchingly carry the conversation on
but your voice breaks precisely eight times
in the past minute.
I try to inch my hand closer to yours
and your fingers shrink away
sensing my touch
which isn’t welcome anymore.
Your lips quiver ever so slightly
and I can hear the accusing words
that you try to hold back.
You look unchanged and unaffected
but the blood in your cheeks that
I have grown so fond of,
has slowly started to drain away.
You look away
and fixate your eyes at nothing at all,
letting your dry cappuccino grow cold
and with it,
your heart

I know now what people mean when they say that they can feel their heart breaking,
because the entire time that I thought I was breaking yours, I was sucking the life
out of mine

|My Type|

He said he knew my type.

He said, I was the spoilt kind
and if I slit my wrists
they would bleed out alcohol
four pints of Jameson, three of Miller Light
and ten shots of Calle 23
staining the skimpy dresses
and short skirts that I wear
to attract countless lusting eyes
in bars or the corners of dimly lit streets
where I much rather stick my tongue
down the throat of a beautiful redhead
who later finds herself in my bed
while I find myself in a white man’s arms
telling him made up stories
about the ink that I’ve used
to turn my body into an exhibit
fluttering my eyes, showing off my piercings,
teasing and taunting,
and spreading the smell of tobacco
splashed across my breath
into the many salivating mouths
that I’m too distracted to keep count
before heading back only to find
those captivating curls of red gone
and mourning her absence over
a perfectly rolled Malana
losing myself in smoke
and silhouettes of other conquests
that I allowed to get away

He said he knew my type.
He couldn’t be more wrong.
He couldn’t be more right.

|The Girl In The Photograph| and other poems are © Shreya Barua

Shreya Barua is a recent Trinity postgraduate. She moved halfway across the world, from Delhi to Dublin to be able to indulge in the two things that have her heart: literature and travel. When she is not too busy daydreaming, one can find her hiking on the Wicklow mountains or sipping a glass of red by the grand canal.

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