Manahil Bandukwala

The freezer doesn’t have space for leftovers

I mix in soya sauce & chili paste & coat
each floret. Drip

on the table crumbs, the piano
keys, the blanket curled in patchwork that gathers
skin flakes behind the bed. I could try
my hands elbow deep in a bowl

where I squeeze honey & coat my lips.

Collect the cauliflower stem in a plastic
bag where it sits for days because

February has locked the green bin
shut, an icy seal on icy mountain.
This keeps raccoons out, true. I slide

down & land, ass first, on the sidewalk.

People skirt around me
& the eggshells & onion
skins, tugging

leashed dogs who just want a lick of honey,
the same that coats my lips. I leave sticky kisses

on the bed, the mirror,
the frosted windowpane.


The pumice stone still holds
your skin. I told you

not to rub so hard but the stone is now more you
than rock so I suppose

I am grateful. I rubbed your feet while the rock dried,
dangling from the shower knob. You wanted to know

if it was really stone. I wanted 

to know if your skin would stay
forever. Is five years the same
as forever? You wanted to know

if it would heat up
like lava. I said

we could burn chai in a steel saucepan
& compare the black, spongy residue that left

our liquid smoky. You wanted

to see the pebble smoothed down like the river rocks
that kept our papers down. I just wanted

to see you healed.

Circle in a circle

A garden
boxed by arches
a choir
sings infinitely. Over the shoulder

a hundred concentric circles
move inward. I didn’t
come here for optical
illusions but the music stops

& this concrete block
cools beneath me. The self
sweating in layers now shed
is gone. A garden

sliced out
of a forest
side by side with
the anthropocene side

by side with a painting
of an oiled mechanic. The spiders that crawl
in this dirt

look like stools. They nibble
on silk flowers & my stomach
rumbles. Recorded music rises

again & the smell
of dirt

after rain in a room
where skylights don’t leak.

Manahil Bandukwala is the author of two chapbooks, Paper Doll (Anstruther Press, 2019) and Pipe Rose (battleaxe press, 2018). Her work has appeared in The Puritan, Room, The Poetry Annals, Parentheses Journal, Coven Editions, Bywords, and other places. She was the 2019 winner of Room magazine’s Emerging Writer Award, and won the Lilian I. Found Award in 2019 for her poem, “Things I have learned from laundry.” See her work at