“Telling Signs” – Nayana Nair

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“Does rust affect plastic dreams?”
I ask my teacher in my sleep.
She takes out an axe and starts cutting down
the first mouth filled with wrong answers.
Two rows away
she wipes her brows and folds her sleeves,
she takes another deep breath
before she checks the attendance sheet
and finds the next dream to kill.

She tells me I should think more and ask more
and ask the questions that help me live.
She looks at the metal that grows out of my pores
and gives me another chance.
She says only if I would try to be better
than the people I am clinging to, I could grow up to be her.
I look away from the blood that flowing down her neck,
the parts of her that she intends to kill by holding other’s breath.

“What about my mother’s arms, weak weak exhausted arms?
Are those my telling signs?
Does that mean I don’t have to worry,
that I am just someone next in line?
What about you? Do you rust like me?
Would the color of my rust, would my weakened heart
make me worth protecting,
make me deserving of kinder words?

She told me “It will not get you respect or equality,
if that’s what you are looking for.
It can sure get you love, of some kind, for some time
but it is just a matter of time
before you see the end that only you can write.
And you would end up writing it
cause that painful end would be more truer and more yours
than any love that you find by compromise.”

As she walks past me, smiling lovingly,
as she spares my life, that now she owns.
As she dissolves my only way back,
I realize too late, that my chaos and my doubts
were more hopeful than an answer like this
that promises pain to everyone else but me.

“Saving only December” – Nayana Nair

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All the spring’s color
have been molten and poured
into the broken casts of summer.
They seep into ground, into autumn leaves
that falls in every space between you and me.
They sing something for us again
as we shiver and stop ourselves from giving in,
as you hold back from saying every word
that can fix me (at least for now).
I google how to kill feelings
that don’t let me eat or speak or smile.
I bite my lips trying to bury the words
that would shine in your colors, if you were to look at me.
If you were to look at me, you would be only sad
to know how unchangeable my heart is.

You tear sheet after sheet, rip them out of calendar
and hand them to me.
We burn 11 months, saving only December, because you never know.
There is a knock on our door, someone who is lost
brings in the chilled wind, the fine dust of snow,
and voices celebrating something we will never understand.
I wait for you to come back and settle into you warm sleep.
I sit at the foot of the sofa, and think about
the one time I dreamt of death.
I was looking out of window waiting for you
and you came back with new pair of eyes that never settled on me,
and when I was almost about to cry
you moved towards me with a dying sparrow in your trembling hands.
It lay on its side with its soft violent gasp for breath
that were perfectly in sync with mine.

“Invisible with every word” – Nayana Nair

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The last stranger at the funeral home
brought in the worst rain of the season,
the coldest wind of the night
along with your last letter.
He leaned against the window
and called up everyone he won’t be able to meet today
looking at me all the while.
As if he knew every word that I was reading.
Probably waiting
to see whether I cry at the same lines that he did.
His eyes look like the ones who have got used
to crying for things that cannot be undone,
for a life that cannot be.
I wondered if he loved you. Maybe he did.
Maybe you knew. I hope you did.
He sat beside me
trying not to grieve more than a mother,
trying not mourn like a lover,
making himself invisible with every word
i read under my tearful breath

“…even when I sat at the dinner table with my brightest smile and deepest hunger, i couldn’t convince me that i needed to exist here.
even the warmest embrace of this world could do nothing but break me. i knew opening my heart could only bring floods and all ends of all kind.
i knew all along of this end. forgive me for pretending otherwise….”

“Running Barefoot” – Nayana Nair

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He was somewhere upstairs
running barefoot on the dusty floors
of the broken house.
I could hear him
even when I stood waiting in the backyard
staring at all the rusty memories,
feeling the stare of people who will never leave this place,
who may never leave me again
now that I fear them for never actually dying.
I tried not to love him
as I stood alone waiting for him to get bored of all this.

I was too afraid to be with him
when he was like that.
when he read aloud poems
about death out of the blue,
and read them as if they were the only true declaration
he could make to the world,
the only true word that he could say to his life.
I would only later find out
that they were written by someone else –
someone who lived in a difficult to pronounce country.
He loved things like that –
taking up the clothes of emotions of others
and wrapping himself up in them
as he walked into all the unknown lives
that oddly had a room reserved just for him.

And always, I would be outside
waiting for the sun to set, for his heart to ease,
to be there when he decides to come back to reality for good.
I didn’t realize that footsteps had ceased long ago,
and so had his breath.
So I stood there letting my heart run barefoot
on the floor of delusion, in the world where he exists.
I waited for my love to give up on him.
I was afraid of being me
when my love stop, won’t look back at me.

“Black Pond” – Nayana Nair

As I climb,
my steps remembered the shoes I once had
the ones that didn’t hurt so much
and how hands of mine that hacked through them
just to become my own person,
some sort of grown-up.
I climbed over the yellow soft dress
and the light that it caught
just to get this, this body that looks held together
but is not
(this body knows only how to fall apart),
just to get few more shadows that ruin my beautiful wrist
with their persistent passion.
They claw through me, to see how I am made,
how I look and speak once I break.
A stranger once left me at the bottom of a black pond
and called it love just so that I won’t cry
and in return I called him my love
just for few breaths, just for my life.
I climbed over the right to mean the word “love” thereafter
and the dream of knowing a heart other than mine.
I breathe as if I have sinned
yet I walk like I am happiness and determination in flesh.
I cling to all the bitter bits of this world
as if they would ultimately save me.
I climb over, get over, and forget
so easily, so bitterly
that each feeling of mine is just a shade
of resentment.

“Small Impossible Dream” – Nayana Nair

Her floor had always been the color of the season
I remember this, only when I step into the mess of her life.
The spring issues lay scattered like the flowers
The pink, red, yellows, and greens,
women who only know youth,
women who only grow younger
the kind of woman she wanted to be
(what a small impossible dream)
and she almost is.
And now that she can never change
would she be happy?
When/if she comes across her own lifeless eyes in the missing posters
would she be glad to be one of the “sad popular”?
I shatter the home of her missing goldfish
in my haste efforts to pick them up
and put them out of sight- the bundles of glossy paper
that my eyes can’t handle.
I try to put them away,
wanting to throw them away
now that she wouldn’t mind, now that she won’t yell at me
or anyone for taking away too much of her.
I want to try it.
i want to try, so she has no option but to stop me.
“let’s leave her in peace” tells me my moral compass and my grief.
“i don’t want to show her the kind of respect that only dead deserve”
shouts back my anger and my love.
I drop the heaviest bag in this world on her rain soaked bed.
Her last dress, her last chocolate wrapper, her last bus ticket,
her last mistake, her last breath
everything spilling out,
everything ruining the spring that I dreamed for her along with her.

“Funny Look” – Nayana Nair

When I speak of
what I thought my life would be like,
what I still want to be if I was not dying in my skin,
they give me a funny look as if I am seeing things.

And frankly I am seeing the only things
that give me hope.
I am aware of their imaginary status
and how separated by time they are from my life.

But I wish instead they would just smile along
as if I am a child who speaks
of ten professions in one breath
and not remind me how I am losing out in life as a woman
just because I am trying to breathe as my dream once in a while.

“Not So Bad” – Nayana Nair

he sings the most beautiful song.
so beautiful
that the sky becomes a reflection of the heart
that he can barely carry in himself.
the words on his lips
they break, they sound different,
feel different,
they sound like the first cry of a baby-
the violent coming to life.
they run and collide and shatter
against the rough indifferent surface
of this dying world, a not-so-bad world.
he becomes a not-so-bad singer.
as he runs out of breath and love
someone places a coin of gold in his hands.
he means to feel grateful for this compensation,
but all he can do is hold his tongue, hold his tears.
hold his bitterness in himself
and sing another song dreaming, waiting
for an honest reply, a genuine care,
an understanding gaze in return for laying bare his humanness.

“As the fire dies out” – Nayana Nair

After a long time, I feel like walking
towards the calm unknown.
The wildness in me that I had thrown away,
is waiting for me.
They were always waiting
to tell me all the gossips of stars and fishes,
how lost and alone they both felt
to know that blue they had in common
were totally different worlds.

The clothes that made me look somewhat beautiful
I fold them with care,
leave it somewhere you won’t miss.
Their newness would be the new metaphor for sadness,
sadness – yours and mine.

There must be a magic to undo this curse of our feelings.
There must be an answer, a life
that doesn’t necessarily need us to be together.
I will ask the cruel fairies that live in dying breaths
to make you forget me at sunrise,
to make me feel something for you again,
as my life with you ends.

“Greater Good” – Nayana Nair

The trees are alive today.
They ask me to sing them to sleep for the last time.
I sing for hours
but they refuse to close their eyes.

They ask me how I have been,
not waiting for my answer,
in one breath they ask
about the words they don’t understand,
ask me about the days I do not remember anything about
(there are so many days I have no memory of
while I can’t forget the days I really want to forget),
about the rain that has left us long ago.

Their love for this world that they do not understand-
makes me jealous,
makes me wonder,
if I could love also this world as much as I want to
if I knew a little less,
if I gave up this human heart
that knows nothing but to steal and plead,
to take away and bleed.
But if I knew how to give up myself
for my greater good,
I would have done so long ago.

I can only stay selfish,
act better than what I am,
sing songs to the trees
that will soon be killed for my sake.