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Tears water the curry-leaf dragon
as waterfalls have done so for hundreds of generations,
dripping down its tail, soaking in
the soil of the wooden pot in which the creature dreams.

Its breath warms the crevices of my apartment
like sun-baked sand nestling around your feet
or a plate of biryani filling up your throat and
all the while I pluck away at its tail; tears falling and

perhaps that is why they keep me
and my people locked away from the jewels
of the city, only to feel fresh sunlight
when we construct their mansions and machines
that slice backwards to cut our legs
and wrench the tears from our glassy eyes.

A restaurant clad in ultramarine shine
along the seas that brought us to this country
receives the leaves picked from the tail of my dragon.
“Fresh this time?”
Smirks coated in sauces I’ve never tasted.
Plates of curry draped in patterns I’ve seen my mother wear.

Care not for what goes in “the curry”—
the restaurant’s undying speciality—
as diamonds melt over carefully spiced meat
or emeralds caramelize with onions at searing heats
or rubies chopped with tomatoes thrown in after
and gold dripping off the bone that stains your fingers.

You lick your lips.
They lick their teeth, and

perhaps that is why they came with dragons that birthed blazes,
shrinking our homes into enclosures,
cutting our minds with butcher knives
and contorting our beings into being not
what we want to be, like filthy hands
kneading dough under the cosmos.

The curry-leaf dragon’s strength is fading
and so bore no leaves for me to pluck.
Suren has been tending his oleander dragon,
with a tail as bright as the sun’s delicious radiance.
Hatred spat into its soil, it is poison
tended by poison that births poison, and

perhaps different tears should fall from eyes, and
perhaps our dreams have not drowned
but are only buried, waiting to be tended.
I shuddered as Suren’s lips dripped with hatred,
calling out that we were shattered into fragments,
but that they would never be able to take our dragons.

Ryan is an Indian-South African poet and filmmaker hailing from Johannesburg. He recently graduated with a BSc Hons in Geography and Environmental Sciences and is currently pursuing a Higher Certificate in Performing Arts. You can find links to his short films and his endless retweets on Twitter @RNaamdhew.
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13 May 2024

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