Afterwards, when she lies in half-slumber, spent, in the arms of fleeting lovers, she likes to trace her hands over the silhouette of the naked form beside her; she has a fetish for scars, especially unusual ones, having acquired one herself when she was younger.
She liked it when the story of her scar shocked her lovers, and makes a point of checking their skin for any scars to test them into telling her.
When he stirs, she gently pulls up her leg onto his chest and places his hand over the blotchy wound that lies spread across her knee cap, where eight rows of raised skin sit in a latticed mesh. The scar tissue has congealed into a crimson keloid, glimmering like a velvet tarantula. He holds her calves and explores the bulging outline of the wound she shows, with the tip of a gentle finger.
She wears her fearsome mark like a badge. She tells him the dramatic plot of a life-changing mishap: of a bottle of vodka polished neat, a drunken fall onto a crystal carafe, and a searing memory of crushed glass bursting her knee open into a rafflesia bloom.
She turned her life around she says, never drank again, prized her precious sobriety since – relaying the lusty, but well-versed, lines which have inspired prolonged applause at her AA meetings . He is amused by her talk and humours her as he lets her hands explore him, feeling her way down slowly to the small of his belly where it stops at the calloused outline of the sickle-shaped gash she had felt before in their love making. It appears to her like a knotted serpent, a grim gatekeeper resting at his taut navel. She looks up at him, wanting to know its story.
He is forthcoming, his voice unwavering as he recounts his tale; one fateful night, in the hotbed of religion-drugged violence in the Kashmir valley, they had stormed in wielding meat cleavers, ferocious, foaming at the mouth. The furious cries of the insurgents rent the air, and he has only a hazy recollection of consciousness thinning away as the serrated teeth of a blade sliced open his belly. His insides gouged out, splattered on the freezing mosaic floor, they leave him for dead – the translucent gauze of connective tissue still clinging to his bones like organza.
He traces the outline of his scar, a memento of his miraculous return from the afterworld while she liesin sweaty silence, her pupils dark moons. At length a gasp escapes her lips, her thunder forever stolen.
Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad is a Sydney based artist, poet and pianist. She holds a Masters in English and is a member of Sydney’s North Shore Poetry Project and Authora Australis. Her recent works have been published in Red Eft Review, Glass Poetry Journal’s Poets Resist, The Maier Museum of Art Journal of Ekphrastic Poetry, Eunoia Review and other literary journals. Oormila regularly performs her poetry and exhibits her art at shows in Sydney.