The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Ellen Kombiyil’s “Histories of the Future Perfect”



I go it alone: snow, shaken from my coat
in the over-warm auditorium,

scent of melted butter. My parched throat,
cold-hot, and windowless air shot with light.

He didn’t come. Siamese seat, draped
with purse and coat: hand in hand, hollow gloves

rest on what would have been his thigh.
This could be a dream: unreal colors flick

before my eyes in recurring themes.
The ghost of myself forgets the layer

between me and the picture, so I rise
and enter, mouthing with Scarlett the words

After all, tomorrow is another day
my lipstick not as perfect, red

sun setting in her world, track lights brightening
in mine. There are coats to be gathered,

cell phones, keys, wallets: an amnesiac’s
list of clues. Names of the dead scroll on screen

and someone knocks down a bottle of Coke.
It rolls down the slope, crashing into row

upon row of anchored metal—the chairs
that held us like mothers. I eclipse

my backlit shadow near an exit, crossing
from dim to fluorescent. And the world begins.

This selection comes from Ellen Kombiyil’s book Histories of the Future Perfect, available now from Great Indian Poetry Collective. Purchase your copy here!

Ellen Kombiyil is the author of “Histories of the Future Perfect” (2015). A recent transplant from Bangalore, India, where she lived for nearly 11 years, she is a founder of The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective, an mentorship-model literary press specializing in innovative books from India/Indian diaspora. She is a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee and has read, performed or taught workshops at the annual Prakriti Poetry festival in Chennai, the Raedleaf Poetry Awards in Hyderabad, and Lekhana in Bangalore. Originally from Syracuse, New York, and a graduate of the University of Chicago, she now lives in New York City with her husband and two children.

T.A. Noonan is the author of several books and chapbooks, most recently The Midway Iterations(Hyacinth Girl Press, 2015), Fall (Lucky Bastard Press, 2015), and The Ep[is]odes: a reformulation of Horace (Noctuary Press, 2016). Her work has appeared in Reunion: The Dallas ReviewMenacing HedgeLITWest Wind ReviewNinth LetterPhoebe, and others. A weightlifter, artist, teacher, priestess, and all-around woman of action, she is the Vice President and Associate Editor of Sundress Publications.

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