warm sand / its grains fill the space between my toes / my scorched, bare feet try to sink in deeper / i wipe away the jalebi bits that stick to my chin / sunshine melody / reddish hue splashed on my burnt, brown skin / leaves do a little dance / day breeze rushes to makes peace / my flowing sundress holds me in a tight embrace, letting go almost immediately / sand grains lightly cling to every inch of exposed skin / ringing bells of the kulfi cart / time to retreat back to the sugarcane shade / mum brushes the sand away with the back of her hand / papa wipes my face with a corner of his cotton shirt / a fearless cuckoo perches on my outstretched hand / listen child / canary chirps its caution song / ignorance is risk / ignorance is bliss / hide child / freshly cut grass tickles my arms / my fingers dig in deeper / clutching and uprooting grass / ground / be electricity - find your ground / honey trickles down the side of my face / amber beads in soil / cotton balls smudged with tarmac gray paint, pressed together onto a dirty canvas / glass beads shatter / i am covered with dahlia petals, soil and grass tufts, stray roots / trees sway, making way for light and rain / sway along / run / i grip mum's and papa's pinkie finger, they usher me inside, behind them / outside noise is inside music / and my tongue is permanently stained a milk chocolate brown / coconut trees dancing in the midnight sky / the moon watching over my parents, watching over me / keep alerts child / don't fall for slumber, in slumber / chlorine in water / as if the sky painted the water azure too / worry is beneath me / when water enters my clothes, i wear a radiating dress / how i pity water - it’s never been held / turn all poison into saccharine / rise / floating maple leaves / only fear makes one end deep / i am untouched / truly an island / who am i to leave a castle / but look at the world outside / listen to the sirens inviting me to the noise / who am i to stay sheltered / i take it for what it is / i can't have both

Srishti Pandey (she/her) is 15-years-old and hails from India; she is a sleep-deprived teenager with big dreams. She is a STEM student. Her work is present/forthcoming in the Ice Lolly Review, Intersections Mag, Propaganda Panda Mag, Love Letters Mag, Cathartic Youth Lit Mag and Lit Space Magazine. You can find her on instagram: and twitter: @srishtipandey_