The fishes peep at me
through the pink sewer grates,
the filth and dirt and greed of city
eating their eyes,
the loneliness scratching at their fins.
I look at them
as if they are a painting
hung on an illuminated wall –
the last standing wall.
The vapors of dissipated life, dissolved flesh
spread all around it – the waste of everyday life
the waste of silent war.
But it lasts only a moment
my gift of vision, my ability to detach
only lasts so long.
The hunger in my bones, once again,
makes me look away.
I get up and walk.
I move my feet to the beat of the song
being spun in my corrupted mind
I am tempted to increase the volume
to find a pitch that resonates with the air here.
The point where everything bleeds and nothing heals
what will happen to me there,
what will happen to all of us I wonder.
But I have walked these roads before
I now know more than anything
that I only yearn to live.
Slowly, I have learned to protect my ailing tissues.
I have learned to gaze lovingly at my broken mind.
So, I press pause.
I continue to persevere.
as his goodbye, he said to me,
“i don’t want to be yours.
but never stop being mine.
never forget me.
you promised to love me all your life.
be my happiness.
let your tears,
let my shadow reign over your heart.
be my happiness.
never chase away the rain that i am leaving in you
never look for another heart.
be my value, be my worth,
be my pride.
you don’t have to be my love
to have a place in my life.
you can be nothing to me
and still be my treasure at the same time.
i don’t want to be yours
but it would heal my wounds, my ego
to know you will be broken without me
your brokenness will make me more complete
than your love could.”
How are you?
Are you still there where we learnt to leave?
Since you left
I have changed my address a few times already.
My heart doesn’t lie broken
on the streets that only you could walk.
I find it funny and interesting and sad
that once I believed in “one and only love”,
that once I believed that I have found
what the rest of the world could not.
My hands don’t feel like my hands now,
Now that my hands
have reached out for love even after you.
My mind doesn’t feel like my mind,
now that my mind can forget any hurt caused by love,
now that my mind can easily rewrite love as something else
something trivial, something passing by,
the moment I am near another light-filled human
who only wants a breaking out of me.
I feel less like myself, the more I heal myself.
Whatever grows out of me
doesn’t want to be anything like the person you loved,
the person I was so proud to be,
the person who couldn’t live without wounds.
It hurts less in the body I am now in.
It hurts less to know finally
that I am more than enough
to fill the void of my own size – the everyday lacking
that I always felt I needed to do something about.
I find it funny and interesting and sad
that I could learn to live only by losing you,
by learning to walk away from you.
The leaves flew back to their trees.
The fruits became never eaten, never ripened, never born.
The papers on my desk forgot how to exist for themselves.
For a moment I feared maybe this is how
the past love, the healed hurt returns.
But it wasn’t so.
That day, on that bleak morning
you looked at me
and my heart learned to believe again.
My lips reached out to learn your name.
Your name, as if out of a dream, settled on my shoulders
and told me I can rest.
On that morning, that should have been like the hundred others,
I learnt that in spite of my bitterness and my disappointment
I wanted to believe in this world.
And even in my denial I was waiting for a moment like this.
A moment in which my broken and incomplete heart
is returned to its original state of trust, as if by a miracle,
by your gentle touch of understanding.
I feared calling it love, when I knew that it already was.
No other word would suffice.
A face looks out of me-
that damned face of love that never gives up.
It writes down histories, and diaries,
and fears of people it wants to heal.
It never speaks aloud the hopes of gentle gaze
it secretly wants out of them.
It wants a lot many things out of them to name a few, I guess.
Just how it wants a bit too much out of me.
It wants me to learn new tricks to entertain, new specs to list out
just in case my heart isn’t enough.
It wants me to stay close, and speak sweeter
and hold people more dearer.
It wants me to walk back to offer smile
to the ones who didn’t want to be held dearer, at least not by me.
It wants them to know how they will always dazzle
even if they fall short of their own expectation,
even if they find a love whose meaning won’t have a place for me.
I hate being the one losing sleep and respect and my ability to
function like a person with one heart
or have even one complete part of me left for myself.
But I love that love hungry being in me.
I love the intense truth it knows about itself.
I love how, when I cannot fall asleep,
it crawls out of me and sits by my side
to tell me about the another stranger who once made me smile
just by existing, even if their existence was not for me,
even when I exist just fine without them.
Once she had a bite of my fate
she became a restless ghost.
She looked like all my ugly wishes staring back at me
but she had a beautiful smile so it was more bearable to my eyes
than to wear my own desperate words on my unsightly lips.
She looked out of place, but in a good way
as if she was the invitation to some place where my light won’t die.
Even in her voice it was my own words
that asked me to leave, that told me to love for the last time.
As my shrieks danced in the empty corridors
she planted a seed of eucalyptus in my palm,
she covered my hand with hers,
and covered our hands in dirt.
She told me how, for years, only the smell of eucalyptus
could calm her mind,
it made her believe that there was a gentle cure
to every disease that hurt her heart.
As she spoke such words that were not extraordinarily sad
I felt my spine become soft.
I dreamt of her leaning against my back
relieved of her every pain
and maybe it was the only beautiful wish
that has ever been born from my heart.
Once I touched the shadow of her heart
I grew and bloomed and learnt to be the one
who waits, heals,
loves, and breaks without bounds.
in her two storey house
my doll sleeps on her silk sheets
with a knife resting beside her.
as if newly delivered and never used,
as if sharpened hundred times,
as if it has known the pain of blood every night,
every night cleaned
under the deafening noise of running tap water.
the metal mixes with her fears, with her trembling hands.
something again slips from her grasp.
and now it is time for tears,
and it will be soon time
for cycles of search and paranoia.
there is a time for every madness in her mind.
there is always a calm wait
before she reaches the next stage of hopelessness.
there is always a party hosted at the dead end of her lives
where she takes another drink,
and finds hands filled with warmth
and eyes that like the color of her healing skin,
the burned tips of her tongue, and her swallowed words equally.
but someone utters the wrong word,
looks at her the wrong way,
leaves the taps water, filled with smell of blood,
running in her mind again,
and again she lunges for the
the knife that fits in her hand better than any hope
and again she ends the song of her lover,
again she wakes up alone.
He stepped down from his ‘cloud nine of the day’
as I stepped out from my house made of last drops of rain
and at the intersection of fleeting memories
we fell in love.
That is what I tell my friends
when they ask me about the moment
I was tempted to end the sadness of my life.
I tell them about the words I borrowed from his lips,
his borrowed tongue that helped me eat a bit more.
How I taped his adjectives on my mirror
so that I wouldn’t have to look at myself.
They sit with me on the table
I can’t bear to share with my love.
They stare at me, as I ask them what to wear,
how to hide my poison, how to hide the crack at the elbow,
the bruised collarbone, the split lip,
the ache in my heels, my frayed wings,
my broken voice
and all other reminders of what love has done to me,
and what more love can do, if i just let it in again.
They tell me it is all healed.
They tell me it is all past.
They hold their skin against mine to make me see
that the cracks are all in my mind,
how everyone looks just like me,
how everything wrong with me is now the norm.
And they laughed
when I looked at them with concern.
They dropped me at the restaurant
and vanished at the farthest bend of the road.
As I dragged my feet towards another story
that I will never get to complete,
another tragedy that suited only me,
I looked back and tried to think of all the things
that these kind friends of mine suffered
as they hoped and wished and lied to themselves.
The exceptions they now considered normal,
the wounds they cannot even see,
the pain they cannot call pain,
the love they cannot bear to leave-
I tasted these facts
in every spoon of artificial sweetness
I fed to my mouth that evening.
Outside my body, outside myself
I can be the the girl
who walks to a stranger, smiles and asks his name,
who keeps her name in her mouth,
and doesn’t throw it away
along with the chewing gum in the nearest trash can.
Would she hold his hand?
I think she would.
But even then
would she be reminded of the the poem she wrote in seventh grade
“the ugliness of people dripping from their hands
at nights, holding my breath,
crushing my 27 teeth under an unwanted kiss,
promising to kill me next time“.
That poem doesn’t exist in this world,
let’s keep reminding ourselves that.
So yes, she holds this stranger
a bit more closer than she would have deemed wise
if she saw it how I would
and she would make promises- the kind lovers makes
before they know what love is.
He will ask about her life
and she will have no sad story to tell.
So she would talk about the recent window shopping-
the things she can’t have and things she can’t get
and she will not be talking in metaphors for once.
For once the one she wants to love
wouldn’t be obsessed with the wounds on her skin
to love, to treasure, to poke, to mock, to dig down further,
to own and to burn.
He will probably say something sweet about her smile
or maybe something boring about his work
and she would smile a bit more in either case.
Because she can smile here, in this world, in front of him,
without having to think about what his each word might hide,
what she is over-looking, what will be the tiny details
that will come back to hurt her, what will be the undoing of her heart.
She will smile cause she won’t have learned to be hate people beforehand,
she wouldn’t have learned to love a bit too late.
She would tell him that he is lovely,
and the blush in his cheeks will make her heart skip
and she would love him for loving him
and not because she is looking for an easy fix to her faltering mind.
the trees sway behind me
they tower and droop and die
above the cold parked cars.
i hear the sounds
that i couldn’t till last night
it is music to my ears
and “warnings of ruin” to my mind.
the green monster, the metal carriage,
and their lonely helpless master
face the direction of ocean.
if we were bigger,
if everything before us could melt,
if i could understand distances,
if i could drive
we could have met a love by that ocean,
we could have called ourselves friends
in that molten world,
i could have told them about the human dread of dying,
we could have laughed over it,
and the tree would have held me and my broken and beaten car
in its motherly gaze
and we wouldn’t worry whether this happiness
could heal us or not.