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Apeejay School, ’16
2016 Adroit Prize for Poetry: Editors’ List

Mother empties food into containers; mouth into sink.
Her body, golden orb, a mass of heavy muscle and cement.

These four walls – Papa, man of unknown territory,
tells her to bend over and pick up the rotten, clean the salt.

Withering night, how a body learns the shadow of a knife.
And I – the child, daughter of a dead aunt, home of lithium.

When papa comes home, I’m bending over, cleaning the glass.
When he comes home, it is Delhi and three o clock. Mama makes shadow,

patterns in the dark. Steps where he doesn’t, rests like a cuckoo bird,
on perch of flight. If flight meant colouring canvas with a paint of red,

if flight meant purple and other creatures of red.
The sky lights sleek as a corpse’s curve, some signs of a fading life.

And winter, seasons, leaves. The dream I remembered,
of a shivering body – of no homes, no origin. The reality she lived.


Smriti Verma grew up in Delhi, India. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in Word RiotOpen Road Review, Alexandria Quarterly, B O D Y, and Yellow Chair Review. Further work is forthcoming from Cleaver Magazine. She is the recipient of the 2015 Save The Earth Poetry Prize and enjoys working as a Poetry Reader for Inklette and Editorial Intern for The Blueshift Journal.