Walking through rainstorms (to a tryst)

I hold you the way sandalwood embers ash onto a white desk after the/ air has cradled


I hold you the way astronomers draw constellations for each other in the markets of wisdom
—Michael Ondaatje, “The Nine Sentiments,” Handwriting


I hold you the way sandalwood embers ash onto a white desk after the air has cradled
burning incense for nine sunrises          I hold you the way garden trees suck up
fertilizer from flowerbeds bursting their red berries onto empty beer cans         I hold
you the way astrologers read the minutiae of our joys (the intricacies of our grief) in
the mirrored curves of our jawlines          I hold you in carved mountain caves where
we lie down and let the jungle vines squeeze around our joined wrists           I hold you
the way a ladybird once tickled its way down my index finger (skim a hand along
your spine (look at you looking at me like the touch of my toe to your shin is like
being held so tight you cannot breathe))          I hold you the way light refracts saffron
off your sweaty forehead as I ride you to orgasm          I hold you the way old palace
turrets invite birds to gather at midnight on the sleeping island          I hold the grief
that roots in you and you hold mine (grief does not uproot when held but we hold it
anyways)          I hold your hand against my butterflies on summer walks pressing my
palm against yours when my fingers ache (they ache from the act but never from the
intent (the intent of holding is nine postcards of places where I will hold you one
day))          I hold your face to my chest when morning dew sniffs out lingering sweat
I hold your ear closed with my collarbone as if to say the world no longer is (the
world always is but in the brief moment of my skin against your skin it is not)          I
hold your body with my heels crossed over tucked snug in the small of your back my
whole heart untranslated          I hold you

About the author

Manahil Bandukwala is a visual artist and writer. Her most recent work is a collaborative piece with Liam Burke, Orbital Cultivation, now out with Collusion Books. She is Coordinating Editor for Arc Poetry Magazine, and Digital Content Editor for Canthius. She is a member of VII, an Ottawa-based creative writing collective.