-Athira Unni

to see death in a petal of a flower

is to witness the garden reveal traps

mother’s wish is to send me to sleep

a three-day break I took from that

and counted curtain folds and tiles

when space finally happened between days

shut eyes saw neon honking dreams 

of fast-moving trains and suicides

of chocolate in a vending machine

that refused to open like my eyes

burning from a negligent purpose 

blessed by decaf, pills and a breathing app

waiting for the blast of sound in silence 

when A used to sleep all the time 

in his hostel bed even during exams 

and me unable to during exams 

now waking up to lights and scars

with wondrous leaves clinging to us

like dreams we brush off into compost

a collateral murder took place in sleep

a pimply child with his toy helicopter

once told me he wanted to die 

I took the helicopter and threw it

it flew a distance and kept falling

and falling and falling until it went 

to the place dreams go to die 

and on a blue quilt I made my home 

wrapped up tears in soggy cotton 

waited for my hair to fall and wake up

to the heretic field of death 

where sleep is the ferryman 

and I paid with sanity to sleep

and meet my monsters once again

this, the cycle of my eyelids opening

and closing to your face, is flying 

round and round and round 

helicopters falling from the sky 


Athira Unni lives on coffee and thunderstorms. She is a PhD candidate at Leeds Beckett University, UK. Her debut poetry collection “Gaea and Other Poems” was published in September 2020. She blogs at chocolateandink.wordpress.com.


‘Helicopters’ appeared in the April 2021 Issue of Pop the Culture Pill. Read the full issue here.

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