Summers, when the city was low on power, we had blackouts almost every night. Oil was replenished in kerosene lanterns, wicks were cleaned and trimmed in expectation during the afternoon. It was so humid, the night seemed to swell and double in size, a whale filled with strange song. We begged for the same ghost stories, trembled with fearful pleasure at the same moments each time. I was afraid of being touched by the moths. They frittered about the flames until they dropped unpredictably with singed wings. Without power, the taps dried out to a trickle. A relay was created by the adults at the municipal tap outdoors, rapidly filling buckets for the bathroom and steel pots for the kitchen then passed backwards. Lots of shouted instructions, mostly ignored. The kids made a line with their toothbrushes. We brushed our teeth in the grass and rinsed our mouths with the startling cold burst from the tap. It felt like moonlight had gushed into our mouths. Like all magical things, it wasn’t safe to swallow, we knew.
Yamini Pathak is the author of the chapbooks, Atlas of Lost Places (Milk and Cake Press) and Breath Fire Water Song (Ghost City Press Summer Series 2021). Her poetry and non-fiction have appeared in Vida Review, Waxwing, Kenyon Review blog, Voicemail Poems, and other places. She serves as poetry editor for Inch micro-chapbooks (Bull City Press) and is an MFA candidate at Antioch University, Los Angeles. Yamini is an alumnus of VONA/Voices (Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation), and Community of Writers.