top of page
  • Writer's pictureMarías at Sampaguitas

Poetry by Leela Raj-Sankar

Updated: Aug 8, 2021


April brings a hundred-degree spring, so I read in the backyard; a book of

love poems you gave me for my birthday last year,

written during some rainless June I’m not old enough

to remember. I didn’t open it for months because

I don’t like looking gift horses in the mouth &

somehow I knew you’d say something I wouldn’t want to

hear, like inscribe sweetheart, don’t prolong your dry spell on

the inside cover. Like tell me I live in the

desert & so it’s stupid to say I need rain. Look, baby, you

told me not to sugarcoat, so in all honesty, I think the book is

awful. I think if I just said tumne khana khaya?

& brought you coffee in the mornings I’d be

more romantic than every one of those poems combined,

but okay, fine, I’ll be your rom-com lover. I’ll be

brown John Cusack with a boombox during the monsoons, wailing

my heart out beneath your second-floor bedroom. Look, baby, you

told me to be honest, so I’ll scratch out your note. I’ll write

LOVE DOESN’T EXIST! on the inside cover instead,

turn into a man so cynical that he writes about

a neverending drought instead of his lover’s hands. You say you’ll

name the sun for me & I think, in which language? In which

season? April turns my head fuzzy so

I tell you to lie in the grass with me. Inke va, my throat is so

dry. What I am trying to say is I love you but

I can’t call you meri jaan. What I am trying to say is that

you should open your windows so you can hear me singing from

ten miles away. What I am trying to say is that

you should drive back down when the storm ends so we can eat

gulab jamun together & try again & try again & try again. What I am trying to say is that

the Tamil word for rain is mazhae & I know I live in the desert but

I need you to repeat it back to me over & over & over. Say absolution. Say starvation.

Say you’ll be the water to my endless thirst, that this time you’ll

play Meg Ryan & we can kiss all weekend even though

we’re both drenched in sweat. Compliment the damp hair on the back of my

neck. My soaked bra, soaked shirt, my thighs sticking to

the deck chair. The way you’re rooted in only one hemisphere: my love.

Meri piya. En kadhale. What I am trying to say is

come back to me when the asphalt season ends. What I am trying to say is

I need you to learn to pronounce my name.

Leela Raj-Sankar (she/her) is an Indian-American high

school freshman from Phoenix, Arizona. Their work has appeared in

Stone of Madness Press, Ex/Post Magazine, and Ghost Heart Lit, among

others. In his spare time, he enjoys drinking far too much iced coffee

and watching bad movies. “Second-Generation Anti-Love Letter” was

edited by August Bronze.

650 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page