On Onlooking | Akhila Pingali

Steve Johnson via Pexels

There’s nothing mere about a spectator

(from Latin spectare, gaze at, observe, frequentative of Latin specere, to look)

Turned inward, turned spectre,

(from Latin spectrum, image, apparition; from Latin specere, to look)

Prepared to swallow itself.


To do, undivided into spectre and spectator; to write, and not be a writer—


(…if I follow up this word with that the differential significance stands out I fit in with others who write I take the stage with all these words I positioned We take a bow I walk maternally into the spotlight I have lived this script already I pulled my strings My shadow danced on the wall to an audience of One the words props to My right to be—)


Thus dies the creator. On the other hand, consider this recipe for a doing:


“Here’s the to-do of sustenance: Start with the oil behind the stove, the noodles on the shelf, the water in the city’s potable water-supply system. See what the heat does to the water. The water to the noodles. Flip the gaze, spectator—watch it gloriously bubble, severely flail, the milk-balloon, the sauce-chromatography, the yolk-mineralizing, the tongue-linger— and kill the spectre. Serves 1 to many.”


To look in the soup-bowl and not see a mirror.


Akhila Pingali is a research scholar and translator based in Hyderabad, India. Her work appears (or is forthcoming) in SoFloPoJo, Brave Voices Mag, Five Minutes, and others. Twitter: @AkhilaPingali.

Leave a Reply