The healing came as a box.
I tried for years to pry it open,
blunted my nails on
its cherrywood edges
bruised my thumbs and called
too many spells out till
my throat ran dry my face wet
from chucking up salt.
The healing came as a box
but not a moment too soon,
no lofty revelation no exclamation
no, quietly my rotten, sunken bits
reached for the latch.
First clue: The box won’t come to you.
First step: You must want to see the chest.
Inside it are all the tools,
the crescent moon
you will need to slice your pride
the cherries to choke your
insecurity, to throw pits in the throat of it.
Inside is chilli powder to burn
all the self-pity and haul your sweet ass
to the altar of reality but
there is also a cushion and water
and silk for your wounds,
there is also a voice recording
you play on repeat some nights saying –
I understand you.
You are safe as you.
Your turmoil is beauty too.
There is also inside it an open field
abundant with flowers you
need not the names to,
and small strong muscles
to apply to your heart.
The healing came as a mirror
no tricks here, no foil.
At the bottom of the box,
carved of soap and sandalwood.
I held it up one day without
my eyes done up as fish so they finally
stopped trying to swim, my lips bare
so they finally spoke the truth that
my beauty was my scar worn backwards
my beauty was in the repeat action
of my weary arm reaching to the box
over and over and saying –
I’m ready to work
hand me the tools
I will chip away the fear,
make a queen from a fool.
Sweet, scary ocean of bravery
wash terrific your waves over me,
I have undone the knot of the box
with a pulsing, bloody key,
and beneath spell and tool
and discarded noose,
I finally found the beauty of me.
Photograph: Upahar Biswas
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