- Roxanne Nagarwalla
The Deer and The Hunter
Updated: May 13, 2022
In the peak of night, the lonely light of the moon languidly pours itself across the wooden floor.
The hickory tree creaks with the sway of the wind, and I stiffen. A sound that used to seem ephemeral and mysterious now rings between ears as a potential threat.
This body refuses slumber, aroused on high alert. There is a strong necessity to protect, but for what, I do not know.
I rise from the bed to check the locks on all the doors and windows, knowing I already locked them a few hours back. This strange neurosis of double-checking is a self-soothing of sorts.
I repeat ‘I am safe’ to myself like a mantra until my body can stop quivering and believe the words as truth.
I fall asleep in the fetal position, holding myself like I would a child.
I am the caretaker and the wounded.
The next day my neck aches from poor sleep, and I go to a massage parlor. An old Thai lady moves over my body hurriedly, her bony fingers pressing deep into my flesh. My sinewy muscles loosen, but my heart contracts.
The only pain lies in a past recollection that her touch unveiled. I allow myself to cry. The old lady is confused about my reaction, and so am I. She leaves me naked in the bed in a solitude of my own making.
I wonder how it can be over six years, but the body still remembers, even when the mind attempts to suppress or reject. Everything becomes a subtle reminder, from waking reality to the depths of sleep.
In the astral realm, my subconscious is plagued with men. Most are middle-aged. Most are white like freshly fallen snow. In my dreams, I am a paralyzed deer, and they, the hunters, search the forest for an easy kill.
I am the easy kill. Soft. Vulnerable. Exposed like an open wound.
When they find me in the moss, they do not say a word. The quiet is overwhelming. Their silent longing is violent and familiar.
I am a woman who is well versed in silence. Taught culturally, generationally, conditionally.
My mouth cannot form a “no” or “stop” or “please”.
The men stand over me, meaty hands reaching for slender throat.
Before they seize my trembling body, I wake up.
I comfort myself, "don't worry, it was only a dream, just a common nightmare."
The subconscious fears that riddle my dreams are synonymous with reality. Every inch of the dreamscape is grounded in the memories of womanhood, an echo from the not-so-distant past.
I know this suffering is not mine alone.
My girlfriend's fathers have ripped into their bodies. My sister shakes off a man’s touch and pulls away too fast when held even tenderly. My best friend still cannot let her boyfriend of two years kiss her, a poignant reminder of childhood.
It hurts too much to talk about. So, we write about it, fasten it into a poem, or transmute it into a song. The alchemy of pain. But something remains. A lingering feeling during even the lightest of days.
The grief grew thick on the skin and became a part of our girlhood; like the freckles across cheeks, or a birthmark on the inner thigh.
A mark that we have somehow survived.
Roxanne is a nomadic artist currently living on an island in Thailand.
She works as a developmental editor and ghostwriter, bringing others’ stories to fruition.
Roxanne spends her time contemplating the paradoxical nature of the human condition and enjoying life's mysteries. Beyond her designated roles of writer, humanitarian, and free spirit, she is a lover; a lover of life and all beings.
Connect with her on Instagram at roxy_vn
blackout poetry , poetry books , slam poetry , ancient love poetry, boudoir photography , nude photography , still life photography , cg artwork , artwork singulart , nowness, nowness in residence , nowness submissions , style like u, colors, warsan shire, cover letter for poetry submission, poetry submission format, def jam poetry, poetry magazine, frontier poetry, selectism, muzzle magazine, mubi, poet, writers workshop, writers submission, poet submission, tracy k smith , poetry out loud , contemporary poetry , natasha trethewey , modern poetry , complete poems , mary oliver , william butler yeats , elizabeth bishop , poet laureate , prose , literary criticism , walt whitman , young poet , free verse , lyric , artist interview, interviews, poet interview, maya angelou , Joy Harjo , treefort artist submission , art basel artist submission , rolling loud artist submission , tappan collective artist submission , kinfolk , azeema , a3c artist submission, where to submit your artwork , how to write an artist submission , south by southwest artist submission , pottery barn artist submission , saatchi art artist submission , how to submit lyrics to artists , comic artist submission , deviantart art , how to submit art to magazines , art contest submission guidelines , how to submit to an art gallery , online art magazines , best online art magazine , online art magazine submission , online art magazines uk , what is the best art magazine , best art photography magazines , biggest art magazines , online art poetry magazine contest , free online poetry magazines , best online poetry magazine , poetry magazines accepting online submissions uk , online poetry literary magazine , popular poetry magazines , short story submissions , where to submit short stories , photography art submissions , best magazines for photography submissions , best creative magazines , best creative magazines accepting submissions , roxanne noor , brogan dinsdale , patrick schiefen