The 2River View 27.2 (Winter 2023)

Sumita Lall

S in Segments


Between drift and dead is the split I fear in the wood I hold in my palm, like when my little girl asked if Shiva’s hair could hold the glacier she saw imploding on a screen after looking up the word sublime passed in a sigh, an adult’s accident, if the ice would feel like sludge once it reached the river’s mouth the way grit tastes when soggy mittens are pulled from teeth holding back the chatter it wants from talk: this stick in hand feels so split, I can’t tell if it’s drift or dead. 

The Y on my left thigh was there, first, at age three because memory works that way, marks existence from registry, takes stock, knows an imprint on the body from birth relies on the stamp the brain makes when the mark is first seen and recognized as mine by a three-year-old’s eyes while squatted on a toilet grunting and aware for the first time something different will stay there forever, become familiar and always accessible by the eyes in reflection or cast down on the toilet for as long as that body lasts, the same size even when the thigh bulges and shrinks over time.


The word downpour turns into soul when my spellchecker makes its claim on that word, divined by algorithm, my iPhone’s intuition trusted more than my own, and I sense the word is more accurate than the downpour I tried to collect in the pail of my screen before hitting send to deluge my loved ones with ominous clouds ready to devour my head, nay soul, in the image attached to the text. The text stands corrected.


My anagram matches a synonym in live, and as clever as I feel about veil I already know the words are empty, the tiles forming letters under fingers trembling and waiting for the reveal that comes with leaver, which is the word I think of when I remember how you said, “I don’t think I love you anymore” after twenty-nine years together, or the way a marriage can hide the truths just below the surface of living a full life when saving face takes precedence over the prefix sur, or a surname is claimed on mine at marriage but resisted because I always knew we’d find ourselves saying, “Your turn” instead, in a game you refuse to play because there’s too much fear in forsake to handle the remaining letters.

Sumita Lall moved from Canada to Ventura, California, in 1998, to finish her Ph.D. in English Literature and to teach composition and literature courses.

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