I see a stranger every night, a body to my soul, preparing for a new
day to unfold.
Hair and make-up and tears, plastered smiles hiding unknown fears,
Her smiles come in different sizes and colors – big, small, happy, sad,
shy, carefree,
She tests them all one by one, and chooses one that fits just right
On her picture-perfect face, renting emotions from my repository,
Living on borrowed happiness, till I run out,
And all that’s left is smudges and cracks, and pieces that no longer fit
I’ve seen her when she’s happy, tied up in her ribbons and laces,
A smile, a pout, a twirl, oblivion.
I’ve seen her when she’s not, tear stained cheeks and red eyes
Searching for inward beauty where it can never be found.


AISHWARYA JAVALGEKAR (she/her) is a poet, blogger and chocolate-lover. A graduate of media and cultural studies, she pursues her interests in gender and mythology through her writing and research. Her poems touch upon themes of love, mental health, and her experiences as a young woman in India.