it is the closest you can get to him
when he’s holding you at arm’s length all the time.
you’re so tired of the space between you
and him that you would do
anything to bridge it.
he’s asked for it.
over and over again.
until his words start coming out
in your voice. until you can’t tell who
initiated the conversation. until you can’t imagine
any other possibility. he may have
asked for it kindly. he may have
said he wanted to make love.
but even the softest coercion
you may never see him
after this. you may see him after
years because one of you is leaving
the city/ the country/ the relationship.
this could be a memory you carry with you
when all you’ll have left of him is
dried flowers and the absence of love.
you’ve allowed yourself to act naive
enough that he gets carried away by it.
your shyness of this subject has
manifested in his mind as innocence—
a thing that needs to be rectified.
you don’t know how to say yes
because you don’t know how to say no
he agreed to use a condom all the way through
only when you cried and screamed
on the phone.
your fear is a china vase in an earthquake.
you stock up on the morning-after pills.
the vibrations in your bones could be excitement
but a sickening part of you is certain it’s anxiety.
when you sat for dinner the night before
you pushed vegetables across your plate
like you were pushing him away.
like the word no was half-chewed bitter gourd
stuck to the back of your throat.
like you knew that spitting it out could
mean never see him again.
like you’re not really in love.
just afraid to be lonely.
you’re unsure why the pain is all
you remember later.
why your ribs were bruised and
your thighs were sore.
why you were doing your best to tune
him out of your radar.
somewhere, you were imagining — if you’d
done it with a girl. if you hadn’t done it at all.
if sexuality had trial rooms
this might be the outfit you would have rejected.
the right (and only) reason to have sex:
there’s a presence in their eyes. a peace.
a flame. that they cannot recognise, but you can.
you can hear your own voice in your head
telling you your body is capable of experiencing
pleasure and revelling in it.
you are the earth awaiting eclipse.
every cell in your body is humming
even you cannot mistake it
Samyuktha Iyer is a student of English Literature who dabbles in dance, martial arts and writing. Her (recently activated) Instagram is @meta_phorplay.