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  • Mandari Perera

බෝනික්කා* (Bonnikka)

If you ask me “What’s new?” I have nothing to say.

Nothing since your graduation after party,

where I watched you leave, dumb, unsatisfied, maintaining a state of mutual jealousy because you could not taste the icing or the cake: both chemically induced faux french vanilla, made from the easy innocence of the small cakery by way of the monastery, cemetery, war memorial and (what used to be) our school.

Nothing since that long summer, when you took my books and bags to UCLA.


You told me I looked beautiful, like a grown woman, a vestal virgin, a bride,

a baby doll, a big girl in my mother’s dress on my seventeenth birthday.

That “Nothing is ever serious when you’re seventeen”, after a night of noise, groupie music, beer and lemonade.

But you lied.

Your pleasure is not to look at me, the same way you look at the cake: your mouth slightly open, eyes like cigarette ends, seven layers of perfectly white icing breathing beneath the nymphetic letters that spell out


Happy Birthday in deep blue, like the ocean-


that drowned the dying December aubades of the men, women, and children in my mother’s family the year I was born.


I am a big girl now, (a pretty baby). I do not sound like a doll.

My cellulite elongate, curve, decorate and bend with my spine like a meridian.

My deep, dark brown eyes, aged like an abandoned shower in an old Hollywood hotel for petite models, actresses,

hypocrites and politicians.

My round, cupped breasts, and small waist now dressed in tight baby blue jeans that grip my behind like two hands.

I can not breathe, but I smell like the fresh intimacy you crave from older, longer blondes, unfaithful wives and American souvenir gift shops.


I must make you feel so uncomfortable: standing four-foot-ten, only sweet for sweet echo’s sake, faerie fingers covered in vanilla frosting,


carefully stitched onto a palm that has not worked a day.



*බෝනික්කා (bo-nik-ka) -Doll.