We Were Still Sowing Ankles When the Devastation Began

by Shinjini Bhattacharjee

You always asked me to
paint only the horses, the mouth
always filled with rain,
and the edges of an unfinished room.

After all, stepping over discarded air
was our favorite pastime.
Grinning madly by a dead crab shell,
drowning cotton in a flood full
of hands. Red as a baby’s blink.

Sometimes I am there only when
you sleep, listening to the lightning
bugs inside your mouth.
Your singular breath hammering
the door edges like I need to be
the definition of almost.

I always knew that maps happen when
you sew raw cactus on your teeth.
The blood, then we.

Shinjini Bhattacharjee is the Editor-in-Chief of Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her poems have been published, or are forthcoming in Crack the Spine, Small Po[r]tions, elimae, Metazen, Red Paint Hills Poetry, Literary Orphans and elsewhere.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “We Were Still Sowing Ankles When the Devastation Began”?

My poetry has always been influenced by the abrupt and surprising nature of the familiar, such the staccato rhythm of an eye blink, that unconsciously disjoints the process of reality. Thus, my writing harbors a series of images that may bear no resemblance to each other’s’ interpretations, but their compressed forms elaborate the narrative texture of a specific moment. It took sixteen drafts for “We were Still Sowing Ankles When the Devastation Began” to assume its final form as a hesitating figment trying to define the course of various moments of my life.


Congrats to the Best Small Fictions nominations from Matter Press for Compressed Creative Arts: Sara Backer’s “Oh, What a Night”; Dan Crawley’s “Powers”; Jill Talbot’s “Malahat Highway on Boxing Day”; Christopher Allen’s “Falling Man;” and Kathy Fish’s “Five Micros.”


Poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction/prose poetry submissions is now open. Check out our new category triptychs! The submission period closes June 15, 2019; submit here.


03/18 • Tamara Gane
03/20 • Tiff Holland
03/25 • Sara Crowley
03/27 • Hannah van Didden
04/01 • Ian Mahler
04/08 • Cindy Hunter Morgan
04/15 • Mason Binkley