No one knows freedom like a slave.
the layers are peeling off
and I look more like
my preferably-avoided side
You probably don’t know
how easy it is for me to resort
to a convenient moral code
based on the fact that nothing matters at all
in the end.
there isn’t someone worthwhile to notice
how I can be spotlessly part of all this
weight to deliver better than our body dust-
So, can you send me a picture
from the faraway?
So I can reaffirm reasons and better days.
It’s important. I’m fading.
I made a plan.
A foolproof regime to surround myself with things
as delightful as ripe, red tomatoes bursting under laughing skin.
A perfectly plausible, markedly intelligent
I lined them one after another,
in a careful, well-thought-out sequence;
Books, burning questions, Earl Gray and full cream concoctions,
sad stories for bed, classic rock for Wednesday next-
no cracks, no slips, fucking perfection.
It’s two a.m.,
our bed is still soaking wet from before you left
and on it my plan has turned to glorious wilderness
of the way your arms weighed on my breasts.
Eight more days to forget.
Five am chimes drowsy
buried in layers of dust moments
down in the bone trenches;
an old habit
creaking through sixty-two years of debris
casting feeble spots on the bedside wall.
Out there the pink is breaking grey
in rhythm with each muscle and cell
hurting back into senses.
Streams of water rolling down the throat
is louder than the clouds after the drought
but, it’s set even on the pattern on the drinking glass,
set in the programme
and part of the monsoon.
Sitting down with the walls
the last bit of love in the house spills out the window
to run down miles, miles and miles…
across the day that was just erected
out of dry twigs breaking crisp
under the weight of
the no man’s land,
the beastly nothing,
the doesn’t matter-
the deadweight of
It’s too close now
with your horizon burning a hot haze of mirages- just outside my eyes.
It’s too hard now
like Colombo sun on the back of my neck in March
– mathematically perpendicular, straight above a rule’s measure-
like you shining across three-thousand two-hundred eighty-three miles.
The air around is gathering, preparing to vibrate
to ‘Darling, it’s so good to see you again’,
everything – the sea, the sun, the air
ready, in place, waiting as honest as glass…
I shouldn’t jinx it
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,
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,
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.
Image from the Animals series by Ryan McGinley