“as if nightmares are fiction” – Nayana Nair

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let’s break those darn mirrors.
lets not peek through the hands of fear.
let’s not see the monsters of sorrow.
remember not
where they walked and where they hide.
close your eyes and wait.

for what?

for the end.

there is an end?

there always is.

there are
ends that pierce through our our shoulder blades
and the blinds of our ribs.
it is actually beautiful to see how
heart melts away too easily, stops too easily
loses it way too easily.

also

there are
ends that make broken mirrors magnificent,
that smell like our mother,
that find our mouths at the dead of the night
and breathe in their last breath into our collapsing lungs.

it is sad to see how
our helplessness asks sacrifice from others
how we go back to sleep,
as if nightmares, once they end, are only fiction.
how we realize only after hours and years, wake up too late to notice
the blue hands, that once seeked us in storms,
decaying under the sunshine of the most beautiful day of our lives.

and what do you do then?

close your eyes and wait.

for what?

for the end

there is an end? even after this?

there always is
but maybe not the one we want.

“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.

“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….”

I chewed, swallowed, and slurped

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My mother used the same knife for over twenty-five years. That’s roughly as old as I am. Through the slicing, chopping, and mincing, the knife grew paper-thin. As I chewed, swallowed, and slurped, my intestines and my liver, heart, and kidneys grew. Along with the food my mother made for me, I swallowed the knife marks that were left on the ingredients. Countless knife marks are engraved in the dark insides of my body. They travel along my veins and play on my nerves. That’s why a mother is a painful thing to me. It’s something the organs all know. I understand the word heartache physically.

– an excerpt from “Knife Marks“, Kim Ae-ran

“The door opens slowly” – Nayana Nair

I turned another corner
and walked into another house
that I knew nothing about.
The owner, the god of this land stood there
outside in the garden
telling a child how to create more beautiful loops,
how to somersault,
how to find more worms, more of everything.
An adult placed like a talisman
that couldn’t keep me
or what I bring with me away.
He didn’t even notice the grave that I carried in me,
the open pits in ground awaiting more bodies.

I walked to the front door and rang the bell
thinking, wondering what must I not be seeing
in the person I see as a fool.
I wonder if the graves in him didn’t love him back as well.
The door opens slowly and I wait.
I let my willingness to wait announce to her that it is me.
She makes me a wait a bit more-
that is the nature of game we are caught in.

Seconds and hours I spend on her couch,
waiting for the commotion outside to end,
for “the happy family on a sunday morning” to end.
She has four brother
and an almost sister that they never talk about.
She reminds me this a few more times
so that on the mental map of belonging and similarities
I find this unnamed sister closer to my role.

They rush in like a flood, like a rain gone wrong-
all these bodies that I am not supposed to see.
“They are perfect”, I thought to myself.
I thought of my mother, the anger in my home,
the counting of countless miseries,
the coarse harsh words that filled my eyes, then filled my mouth,
the gentle sunsets that drown only dreams.
“They are perfect”, I think, “for someone living in the same world as me”.

She tells them about my scholarships, about my fragile upbringing,
about the art that runs in me.
She tells them all about the things that they like.
For today she has made them into me.
I smile and say a little too less.
I smile as if I mean no harm.

But I know
I am here.
I am here and there is no escape
from the fact that eventually
I will sit in this room with my love
and with a glitter pen running out of ink.
I will draw, deepen the cracks that I already see.

Such is my nature.
Such are the songs that I live on repeat.

“Wedding Photos” – Nayana Nair

It was like magic
running the highlighter, the bright crayon
over the sepia hands of her.
She didn’t complain or cry
as we ruined another photograph of hers,
as we tried to hide the evidence
of her failed love, our failing life.

We cut her out, moved her away
from the one who looked like us.
We placed her side of story, her half of heart
in the albums.
Albums that felt lighter
now that the responsibility
to remember only the good, its difficulty
was no longer our business.

We shredded few faces of his,
few others we drowned in ink.
His face was the reason we couldn’t look at ourselves,
the reasons of all the hurting words
we learned so fast.

After we ruined everything for good
we stared at each other,
and saw the tears we should’t be having in us.
This wasn’t how magic is supposed to feel.
Why?
Why was there no thrill, no relief in what we had done?
Isn’t it our turn to be free from the one who left?

“The eyes of my mother” – Nayana Nair

I planted the idea of a happy family,
a happy tomorrow,
into the eyes of my mother
with breaking tips of my pencils
against her granite eye lashes.

I told her the story about the boy
who is ever so sad
because his parents didn’t care enough,
who weeps on his empty birthdays,
who weeps into my heart.
I tell her I am not so fine myself.
Maybe she didn’t hear me clearly,
cause she didn’t stop
her daily charade of writing her “the last letter”.

I cleared her bed, her table, her words, her being
from the perfectly modeled replica of world in my mind.
I showed her, “Look, this is how I will look
with you gone. Look, look at what you must not do to me.”

She pulled me close, and held my hand for a bit too long,
a bit too tenderly
as if letting me know, telling me
“Look, this is how I look when I am alive.
Look, look at me pouring out of myself, dragging my feet
even till the end. Look, look at what I can no longer live as.”

And I stood there for a long time,
slowly understanding things I possibly couldn’t.
I stood there for a long time,
till my mom’s face was replaced by that of the ever so sad boy
as he held me, letting me cry into him
for the hundredth time.

“but the waves run away from me” – Nayana Nair

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.

“how storms fade” – Nayana Nair

twenty-six steps away from the cold end,
we stand together as if we are both looking
at a foe we must defeat together.
a child passes us by with a yellow balloon.
how misplaced it seems, this child
in this place made of storms.

this is something i don’t want to do.
our steps will fade into the deep end of this lake
while the mother in me would summon the face of this child
as a hope of what i could have had
if I could endure a little bit more.

an invisible small hand curls around my fingers
as your voice falters and you mess up our last song.
the ghost of your future, whatever face they may have, have also arrived.
so i put back the sweater on
and you check the calls you must return
as the ones who intend to live on only do.

“you know where you have hidden your light” – Nayana Nair

have you come to find the life, the hand
that lit every eye that you have come across?

you can sit here and look at me for your whole life
but you won’t forget the one whom you cannot face.

she had a sweeter heart than mine, i can guess.
every lover in their best moment were as lovely as this mother earth.

i won’t compete, i won’t love you better.
tell me the parts of you that she lit, i will let them burn you away.

i won’t talk like her, i won’t tell you i understand.
so hold my hand and miss her as much as you can.

in my lacking, see her face.
take the name you have been dreading to approach.

confess your love to the one you have lost.
make peace with the part of you that won’t let her memory rest.

divinity only takes away things that you treasure.
so, remembering is the only easy way to forget.