The Broken Column

SWAGATALAKSHMI ROYCHOWDHURY | CREATIVES



An adaptation of Robert Frost’s poem ‘A Passing Glimpse.’

Trigger warning: Mentions sexual assault.


I had on an invisible metal corset.

Much like Frida, I felt alone.

Alone in my thoughts,

Alone in my journey.

The corset was the cast

Keeping me rooted,

So that I didn’t fly off the tracks

Into the woods.

Somewhere along,

Those threadbare moments would flash by like

Flower(s) from a passing car

They are gone before I can tell what they are.

Somewhere along, I knew that the flower would die.

Who would ask to be deflowered like this?

He was someone else:

Not the steady driver

I knew him to be.

I want(ed) to get out of the train

As he stealthily grazed his hand

Down my underpants and

Squeezed a buttcheek.

I looked up at him,

And he looked back, unashamed.

“Don’t be scared,” his eyes said.

I name all the flowers I am sure they weren’t

For that was no flowery moment.

And also because my seven-year-old self

Knew not the names of very many flowers.

But I do recall the names Frost clearly said they weren’t.

Indeed, they weren’t

fireweed loving (flowers) where woods have burnt

Then what was it that burned

And left in me a pile of charred anguish?

Not bluebells gracing a tunnel mouth

Then why were his blue balls grazing my lips?

Not lupine living on sand and drouth

Perhaps not; all I wanted

Was to be a cactus and prick

His much-too-close-hips

And leave him thrashing about

In the oasis.

Was something brushed across my mind

Yes, something was.

Something unpleasant.

Like watercolour paste past my tongue

Off the tip of the brush.

That no one on earth will ever find?

No Frost no.

Find they will,

Regardless of whether or not you did.

Like you, I too wasn’t

In position to look too close

I could only look back to that moment,

And touch myself,

And shudder at those

Infernal glimpses.