Back to Issue Forty-Three

What Is It I Am Supposed to Do Come Sunrise?



title borrowed from Mohja Kahf


Stall for night.

Popstar Leslie Cheung’s suicide note was written in anaphora.
Many thanks. Many thanks. Many thanks.

The days are an anaphora the clock’s teeth snag on. Today. Today.

Miss You Much Leslie, a memorial concert
where the singers and crowd sang only,
Leslie, O Leslie.

We pray in anaphora —

to ask once
is to obscure what is being asked.

O Lord, deliver me from misery.
O Lord, deliver me from myself.

How could he be thankful when the world wouldn’t tether him with kelp,
couldn’t suture him with song?

Every year, seven hundred thousand of us.

Leslie asked his sister, why
he was sad. I have fame, sister.
I have money, sister. Fame, money,
fame, money, see how they ring,
like a gong.

He asked. He asked. I ask.

O Lord, many thanks
for all that has been given. O Lord, how long till night?

Miss You Much. Miss You Much.


Origin Story



dropping me off, he always said, I am not a fool.
never needed to say what he wasn’t a fool about.
men are small gods. and we live at their altars.
where else would we pasture? they have all the land.
an elder tells a [   ] joke and I lose my hunger.
in their hands, a scaling knife. my sister dissects [   ]
and I choose to be elsewhere slivering
apples. Corners of my mouth pinched stitches
of a map. they teach us young. no matter what
my own hands have done, I pass on fear
passed to me. stand in a room, bundle of clothes
to my chest, ashamed. don’t know it for what it is.
think I’m scared of the man on the bed, when really,
it’s the bed, the clothes to my chest, me in the room
with the man. monstrous girl. I hold on to my disgust
— we were shunned, we are still shunned, do you understand? —
or it holds on to me, my heart in its centuries-old grip.
my husband’s dream: let the old ways trickle
down our legs, warm as held-in piss. not for the first time,
I am seduced. destroy it all! what could spring up in that relieved
space? could it be [        ] or [    ]? look at the light descending
into my studio asking to be used. my husband’s face with
the potential to alter what I allow myself to speak.
even if only to you, my trusted love, I would show myself:
a monster crowning, crying their way into the world.


Urvashi Bahuguna is an Indian poet and essayist. Her work has been recognised by a Tin House scholarship, fellowships from Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Charles Wallace India Trust, and Sangam House, an Eclectica Spotlight Author Prize, and a TOTO Award for Creative Writing. She is the author of Terrarium (The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective, 2019), selected for the Emerging Poets Prize by Aimee Nezhukumatathil, and No Straight Thing Was Ever Made (Penguin India, 2021). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Passages NorthSWWIM Everyday, The Shore, Orion, Wildness, Mud Season Review, UCity Review, The Penguin Book of Indian Poets, and elsewhere. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of The Net, and reads for Four Way Review.

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