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  • Swim


    I must learn to swim.

    When the time comes

    To run away in a boat,

    Doesn’t that increase my chances of survival?


    How many minutes can I hold my breath under water?

    Through long nights of sieges

    And revolutions and night terrors,

    I have held my breath.

    Watching all I’ve lived being torn apart, I’ve held my breath.

    Over broken homes and missing friends, I’ve held my breath.

    I’ve held my breath so long, maybe I won’t sink.


    But, no one is going to throw life jackets to save me.

    Refugee boats are not yachts of luxury.

    No airhostess or sea captains to give you safety instructions,

    No oxygen masks for the fleeing.

    Only sharks, in the sea and on the boat

    And in the land you are both running from and running to,

    Who will look away

    At best

    And deflate your raft at…


    That is still

    At best…


    I must learn to swim

    Or maybe prepare to drown.










    I’m still here. Stuck between walls that close in. Like hands on her saree, pulling, tugging at every last shred of my faith in man.  How can a person be wagered for dice? I wonder, as I bolt one lock after the other. But ten locks are not enough. The noose tightens and I can’t breathe.


    My vision has turned dark now. No longer regal, but blue and black. Like every bruise I suffer, battered. I’ve multiplied in pain, in anger. And the coffin is too tight. Without freedom, I’ve been buried alive.


    Draupadi came from the fire, I remember. Birthed through the flames from the core of the earth. And there she is in the mirror. Crying angry tears, urging me to run. Run back into the fire we came from. No room here for a girl. Only gossamer threads of righteousness being burned at the pyre.



    tomorrows caught

    in crosshairs

    About The Author


    Sneha Sundaram


    Sneha Sundaram is an entrepreneur and poet.  Her background and education is in Engineering and Business, but poetry has always been the voice of her conscience.  Her poems have been published in Noctuid Review, Right Hand Pointing, Yellow Chair Review, Whirlwind, JACLR, Asahi Shimbun, and The Fem among others.  She has won prizes and commendations in the British Council ‘Inspired By Museum’ contest, Capoliveri International Haiku, the 20th Kusamakura International Haiku, Polish International Haiku, Golden Haiku and other contests.  Sneha is currently working on her poetry and a non-fiction book.