She climbed the stairs
never pausing for a second.
I knew what a second of thought could do.
How it could pull back her steps
and let out her screams.
I knew this is something she didn’t need.
She climbed the stairs
and walked towards me.
Beside me, not exactly near,
steps away perhaps she stood.
And that was enough for me.
Enough for me to not know of loneliness.
Enough for me to not feel fear
what all I could never be.
She stood where I could grow if I chose to,
where I could happily fall apart
and she would never leave.
But I also knew that meaning of this distance
which she hoped I didn’t see.
Being her mirror, as I looked at her from this distance,
I realized this carefully measured out space-
how beautiful and perfect
and safe it was.
She always stood far enough
so her heart wouldn’t rely on me to beat.
that’s where my anger lives
on the mud stains of a size 7 shoes
swimming on the white floor of my small apartment.
in the plants uprooted, in the marigolds strewn
and trampled on, in the light that smiles nonetheless.
on the streets where lives my fear – that finds me
and almost kills me, every time i hear footsteps behind me.
on the patronizing attitudes that i dutifully respond with gratefulness.
on the potential dangers, the possibilities of violence that every intimacy invites.
on the things i say yes to with a breaking heart.
in the mirror that only prizes my delicate frame and my weak wrist,
that tells me i would at least beautiful in the missing posters,
in the files housed in grim police stations,
in the videos and photos i would never get to know of (if i am lucky)
in the speeches that tell me i am safe
in the compartments and corners made for me.
soundproof corners where either
i would finally end up believing the facade, the lie of a safe world
or where i would learn how to stay silent to be spared the worst.
that’s where my anger lives
There was that pile of paper
I could never keep safe.
The crossed out, always crossed out words,
words always out of order,
words turned beautiful
only because they dissolved
in my frustration.
Only because now I cannot read them
I must make something out of them
something that couldn’t possibly be mine.
The blue ink dripping,
forming planets on unexpected letters,
forming planets on my hands.
I would take them to class
and look at them as if now I meant something more,
now that I was suffering for something I want.
I raised my hands to answer a question
I have already answered hundred times.
I sat down and swallowed my teacher’s frown.
He didn’t have to teach me
that right answers matter
only when they come from right mouths.
(I once got an A only because I forgot to put my name.)
I knew there was nothing I could learn
by swallowing frowns everyday,
but still I dragged myself, my broken planets,
my half burnt poems in my half burnt hands
to the one who doesn’t think twice
before asking me
to hate myself better.
The dead world lives through her.
Her escape is a door left open
for the violence to spread,
or so she always believed.
When she saw someone who reminded her of love,
saw that the fragile bird of happiness
would choose sit by her window and wait for her to sing back,
when all that could make her feel safe and somehow better
smiled at her and asked her name.
She would remember how from her skin and her mind
grew trees of fear every night.
The flood that has left her land
loomed above this forest.
Anytime the cloud would burst,
the past would burst through her smile,
and all would be lost.
Today, tomorrow, day after,
on an afternoon when she would forget about it all,
on a beautiful day like that
she knows she will find sorrow again.
So she stays quiet and writes a softer tragedy
of a girl who could never tell her name
to anyone who chose her hoping for happiness.
Now the dark corners
are the only safe place remaining.
The loveless days
are the only memory where we can rest
where we can hide from
all the passion that we wished for,
all the feelings we couldn’t handle.
You once wrote to me about the night
that hung as a curtain over your window,
about how you can’t gather the courage to see the light
until I came along and tore away those curtains,
broke your shields
so that you could see what lay beyond.
I once took pride in being the one
who destroyed all dark cells within you.
But I realized too late that you were a flower
who could only bloom in dark,
that shields exist for a reason,
that each step you took towards your fear
thinking it would bring you closer to me
was just the beginning of sacrifices
you made to stay in my world.
As I lay beside you
trying to undo my harm
trying to teach you how to forget me,
what I regret most is that
when you struggled with what you are
I was only proud of my love that could make you do all that
instead of being seeing your love
that could do what I couldn’t.
We assumed that this fire that melts and hurts
was safe in our hearts
and no one would have to know,
no one has to get burned, bear marks of
this uncertain change that leaves us strangers
to the ones we love.
That makes it difficult to act
like what we used to be,
when we are forgetting memories
we are supposed to enact.
There were days in my life
when I knew the sun could never shine brighter
and I can never be more happy.
I thought these with the innocent belief
of constancy of happiness,
rather than the realization
that put an end to hopes.
Somehow with time the glass I am made of
has flowed silently and collected
at safe crowded corners.
And now every light that enters me
is manipulated beyond recognition
into the reflection of my own poison heart.
The colors that have drained
from the dreams of people,
lie cluttered on the doorway
of their homes.
Everytime they try to leave
for something more practical
and more safe life, that they chose,
that awaits them everyday
and does not keep them worrying
about what all they can loose.
Everytime they step out,
even in hurry,
they sidestep that clutter.
Look at it from the corner of their eyes
and for a second their heart seems aware
of the frost that is killing it.
For a second the reasons for the
sleepless night and blank gazes is recalled.
But the limbs keep moving
to keep a distance from hopes
that never materialize.
On their way back home
they dread to see
the clutter of discarded dreams.
But they want to believe
that ignoring and forgetting it
becomes easier with time.
Although it never has.
Your hands were tired
of holding me together,
holding me to ground,
keeping me safe from myself
and my fate.
And when you were no longer there
I could go anywhere in the world,
live different lives,
and see the world anew.
Wait for the death
of my sorrow.
Or kill myself with what I am.
All this I have found
at the cost of
losing earth, me, and you,
to name a few.
In the safety of the matches
that we have hid under our skin,
will we be safe from the winter
that lives in our hearts?