“Can I Please Stop Growing Now?” & “Can Atlas Swim?”

Poetry by Shiksha Dheda & “Nirvana Chronicles” – Painting by Mary Kimber



Can I Please Stop Growing Now?


My shoulders broaden

          –     wider than the valleys of this hometown’s threshold


My fingers lengthen

          –     expanding,

growing, taking up too much space in this room,


          –     stroking the threads of the DNA

harp that binds us together-


filling this dead silence with mindless symphony;


the space between us being held together

-in place –

                in perfect chaos by the gravity of our shared lineage.


I can outrun you now

          –     my legs made stronger


by traversing the insurmountable expectations

you’ve mapped out for me,


          –     my feet toughened by callouses

from the fires of retribution I’ve

hurtled through.


I can outwit you now.

          –     my thoughts sharpened

by the chisels of your cunning,

your seemingly endless moral mazes


– my speech seamless

– threadless-

carefully needled


with caution

          –     never to be misconstrued again.


I can carry you now.


Putting my hardened palms in the cups of your porcelain pits,


I could probably lift you

like a rag doll


          –     weakened,



by the rivers of age and hard work.


My shoulders broaden

–  wider than the valleys of this hometown’s threshold

          –     wider than the boundaries of this relationship



too weak to see you take longer to bend down and pick up

a pen,


too narrow to bear the flood of time

                                     -of aging,

– of your grey head,

– of your wrinkled fingers

– of your drooping shoulders.


I can outgrow you

-but I really would like


to stop growing now.




Can Atlas Swim?


The world is getting warmer 

     –   the burden heavier.


Sweat running down his face, 

blood bursting from his  



He is on his knees now 

     –   begging –






He cannot hold the burden any longer. 

Atlas shrugs. 


There is no place in this world for him; 

he has made his decision. 


Atlas awaits his consequence, 

deep under the realms of the oceans. 


Atlas has finally let go, 


I sure hope he can swim. 





Shiksha Dheda is a South African of Indian descent. She uses writing to express her OCD and depression roller-coaster ventures, but mostly to avoid working on her master’s degree. Sometimes, she dabbles in photography, painting, and talking to herself. Her writing has been featured (on/forthcoming) in Wigleaf, Passages North, Brittle Paper, Door is a jar and Epoch Press amongst others. She is the Pushcart nominated author of Washed Away (Alien Buddha Press, 2021) and currently has chapbooks published with The Daily Drunk Mag and Fahmidan Publishing & Co. She rambles annoyingly at Twitter/X: @ShikshaWrites and on IG: @shikshapoetry. 



Mary Kimber has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the San Francisco Art Institute, where she also studied film and photography. After a long career in the legal industry, Mary returned to painting in 2014, first from her home in Forbes Park, CO, and now from her new residence in Taos, NM. Mary is a member of the Taos Watercolor Society and participates in various community art shows. She is a regular exhibitor at the Narrow Gauge Bookstore Cooperative, in Alamosa, CO, and has been published in the Conejos Writer’s Circle Anthology from 2018-2022. She primarily works in watercolor, but also does printmaking and occasionally uses charcoal, pastels, pen and ink.