Verse

An old wander

I remember when you were a point in the blissful leagues of nothing,

and I was another.

I remember us bearing infinite songs, tastes, agony and colour.

I remember your beating, soft and slight.

We were pin-drops of mist brimming

with the inscriptions for billion echoes of worlds and times.

I remember you scattering into endless little somethings,

before I was ripe enough to know that nothing is ever lost;

all my young atoms were broken with misery

and I disintegrated,

friendless,

somewhere in the dark.

 

I remember all this in a wordless, groundless certainty

that is etched behind my eyelids in a language of stars

and stored vague but safe in my bones.

 

I remember forgetting.

I remember forgetting and ricocheting down in a beam,

my child heart stammering at a loss.

 

I remember waking a wicked thing, angry and ashamed

because I haven’t learnt that evil is innocent; vernal and unaware of home.

I remember the disbelief and the incredible pain that shook the earth

when I encountered you again, accidentally, on a playground full of laughter.

I ran away from you as fast as it took for the wind to deafen me

and speed to blind me from you, even momentarily.

But, it was too late.

I have remembered you again.

 

I remember ages of burning and fury before

I gathered the grace to consent your place in me and mine in you;

slowly, embarrassed, drowning in grief and slashing myself red,

I came to terms; It’s glorious, it’s sad, it’s forever, it’s never,

it’s sacredly mundane and you and I  will never be the same.

 

It was a long journey, finding you.

I couldn’t take too much of you at a time- your taste scorched my throat

and left me in days of shaky illness but, I couldn’t stop.

So, I learnt to take you in, one particle at a time from sunlight.

Shaking with deep blue fear, I dared to listen to you in the sound of trees growing,

stretching slowly into the sky. I hunted for bits of you between

the pages of books written by the wise -some of them were kind but others lied.

I learnt to look closer at my pitifully obscure memory of you-

it became my instinct, my light in finding you at night.

When I was bolder, I chanced a glance at the ocean and it roared with you

– and I wept because it was too blue,

it was too you;

but it was wet with kindness and told me to sit on the dunes

and cry for as long as it took.

It gave me all its salty depths for tears and said that I have forever.

So, I sat there and cried each drop of the ocean until each second of friendless daze

was erected as a monumental tomb of a sand grain.

Then I was done.

 

There was one more place to look.

It was the one place that resembled my memories of us.

So, I turned my head up and told the sun that I’m ready,

that it no longer needed to shield me with its blinding might

from where our secrets sleep.

It bowed out, in a dazzling tribute of orange, pink and fireflies,

and I sat by my tear ocean, on my sandy tombs and watched it set into the depths

 

and it was night.

 

The stars first appeared from where the sun sank in;

bursts of old, white wizards knowing all the secrets from the day we met in the black mist.

One by one, they came out and sat on the night, contemplating grief, ignoring my little fight.

They swarmed the sky forming secret maps but never uttering a word to ease my doubts.

Their silence laughed at me, and said I was too small.

The ocean rolled by reminding that I’ve lamented every sin and crystallised every lesson in silicon drops.

I turned my eyes to the stars, imploring, praying, flooding out.

They flickered back from the sky a sagely, unreasoned ‘no’.

Again and again I begged, sprawled pathetically on the ground and their answer remained same.

I took fistfuls of ocean and sand and threw it at the stars in a frenzy,

shouting ‘look at my lessons, my meditations, my misery…’. They only flickered back nonchalantly.

 

Then there was a howl; behind me on a rugged peak that half-stumbled into the waves.

A black wolf cried at the moon.

Its anguish shot through all of mine,

rushing past ages and lives,

to the very first of my wounds-

that moment in time

when you scattered into endless little somethings before I could even name you.

I ached its howls and woes. Thereafter, I stopped asking the stars for you,

and howled with it, in comradeship, at the moon.

We were both made of the same dark, of the same pain.

 

One night, he didn’t return.

The shadows it lived in creaked quiet.

The ocean couldn’t move and the sand grew cold.

That night, the sky was queenless, retched in a new moon.

My heart grew too heavy to carry, so I left it on the cliff where the wolf used to be,

next to a shining, black stone too dark to see.

 

The old wizards beckoned to me in twinkles from across the sky.

‘We’re sending down the ladder, it’s time,’ they cried.

But, I was wary and my heart was gone, so I shook my head and walked on to the shore.

“Take me old friend ocean, it’s too hard. Take me farther; take me in your arms.”

So he took me in his foamy white arms and we floated to an island far.

A desert of white sand,

nothing,

no one there.

He laid me to rest and said ‘dream now and dream far.’

 

When I woke up, I was back in the mist and you were there.

‘But, why me and not the wolf?’ I wept, ‘it’s not fair’.

‘Look,’ you told me taking my face in your hands, turning me to a white crescent moon hanging under the stars.

It was no longer pure and white but specked with islands of dark.

‘He never lost her,’ you said and I knew then, neither did we, it was only that I didn’t know to see.

             

ryan-mcginley

Image from the Animals series by Ryan McGinley

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7 thoughts on “An old wander

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