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American Dream

Celina Bagchi '24


two specks, bright against the lonely night sky

swaying, as ceramic cheeks crack and

luminous eyes meet in the dark. i’m sorry, i

wonder if i will ever belong to that high school

in the movies, with the girls who listen

to cigarettes after sex and smoke joints out

the window of your jeep wrangler, promising

to stay together after the bonds of suburbia break and

they escape this tired town.


paint on a wall of canvas; i am

the painter trying desperately

to capture your ineffable beauty, your

aura of permanence. i look in the mirror

but i don’t know who stares back; she’s

a withering lily, backlit by smoke pouring

out of the top of a bottle of patron we can’t afford,

crystal glasses replacing a copper pot of kofte

that was once home to everything

we thought we’d ever need.


acrylic paints, bolder than the words that leave my lips but

once you strike the canvas, you can never

take it back, so i paint us as

animals instead of humans, something less perfect

and less permanent. i’m sorry i can’t paint your smile

as pretty as it looks in the dark before me; i’m sorry

my love is only as alive as the stars in the sky above you.

my paintbrush turns the curve

of your neck into a hummingbird’s plume, standing

out against the foliage of the forest we made our home.


us, waiting for the november flowers to bloom. waiting

for my crimes to catch up to me. waiting

for you to say that perhaps we are all animals, but

to look and laugh as you do is all i want, and i promise

to scatter my soul like newspaper clippings

in your childhood bedroom

long after you’ve left for college, and i promise

that someday, the marks i make on this canvas

might mean something

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