Size / / /

If you wanted to scuff up your uniform, I'd lend you the scissors
And we could be Theseus and Ariadne, no clue or clew to navigate
No compasses of bone, spinning needles, or anemometers of change

Because here's the Minotaur now, whittled down to smoke and doubt
And we can escape him, and curriculums, and little parents with tongue-tied dreams
And you won't leave me on an island, or at prom, or in the car with leather seams

Look, a little faster, love
To the ripped pomegranates by the table stretching into cafeterias
To the classroom lamps dripping thick light, dropping brambles and silky-spite

No wonder the bulletin board spits cork and thumbtacks when we pass
It sees us—the ravel of horns behind your brow, the dorsal fin behind my blazer
And like sphinxes before mausoleums and seraphs before demi-gods
the board watches, baring its bright teeth, hunching over the class

At the dance, you hold my hand because it is empty
And I hold yours back because it is warm

We dance because otherwise we are just slipping in sound
And we are fey-royalty, dark-haired and night-skinned
Presiding over vespertine flowers and dusky courts hidden behind the moon.

We dance and think of prophecies in reverse,
of true loves and tragedies and strange songs about months
We dance and think of durable dreams, something to jump on, bite into, of Selene
pulled by moon-rabbits and Endymion in sleepy-wait

We dance and the moment is edible
It is sustenance but we can't feel our teeth
Our throats are coated in unslaked heartache

We skid on the floor—I tripped, you sneezed—
A chaperone arched an eyebrow
and the universe heaved

On the walk back, we are quiet
our mouths full of near-kisses

By then, my eyeliner leaked into creature glyphs
shadows stretched into sylphs
Your wings had folded into a sensible sweater

"See you later," "See you soon," "If you asked, I’d sing down the moon"

We think, in the night, in our half-known bliss
We think, perhaps, we've already done this

Roshani Chokshi is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning children’s book author of the Pandava, Gilded Wolves, and Star-Touched series. Her adult debut, The Last Tale of the Flower Bride, is forthcoming from William Morrow in 2023.
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8 Aug 2022

my uncle walks around with amulets tied to his waist
Cia transits between you: a moon the size of home, a tiny hole in Shapa’s swirls.
Foxglove was called Foxglove not because of the flower, but because she could slip into the skin of a fox like a hand into a glove.
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