All the stories and songs and
in this part of land, at this end of life – they are all about
the boat and its wood, about the shine of its old surface,
the sound of water it carries even as it sits on the dry
dying land, burning for hours and hours.
Hours not measured in the cups of water nor in the shadows
that refuse to fall in spite of all the light,
but hours measured by the cries of gull, the number of sails torn,
the diminishing weight of the men,
and the the silent wrath of all the glorious water.
We ‘the ones rooted to the shores’,
we sing from the shade of generous trees
to ‘the ones who only knew the abundance
of salt and wounds and undying dreams’,
trying to understand their alien love.
We sing of them and their hateful dreams,
of the tears they forced us to swallow because
they couldn’t love us if we wanted to be their shackles,
we narrate these unchanging facts every morning,
we dig a new grave for the same person again and again,
with each hole in earth as empty as the other.
There was once
something similar to a heart
trapped under his breathing flesh.
You remember that stage of wood –
the house of stories in skin,
that used to be hidden away
at the end of a road so narrow
that one could reach its door on knees.
His heart was that place
before it found a new real way to sing of ends.
Do you remember
the night of immense light three years ago-
the night of mad faith,
the burning of glazed wood,
the men who could only speak of hauntings,
of the cold breeze that lived under their skin
as they sought truth and reality
by burning the rest away.
He still repeats those words in his sleep,
those songs that are not really his,
the songs that should have never
been put to words.
or better ignore him,
for he is not entirely here.
A part of him is still burning somewhere.
A part of him is still trying
to survive the death of his world.
My emptiness is finally put to use.
The fishes swim in me –
the luminous disfigured creatures of depth
and the beautiful dying ones of light,
fill me up one by one.
I teach them songs of sorrow.
I hold them in my endless embrace
singing them back to life
and in return they let me feel like someone
who can protect, love, and shield.
They let me feel things no human ever could.
Even though I hate to be seen
I smile as my body is put on display.
My skin, the strongest glass.
My skin, the weakest beams.
The shallowest of oceans I become.
Humans hold hands, hold themselves
as they stand before me.
They find possibilities, mysteries, awe
in all that I hold inside,
in all that isn’t me.
You took my breaking hand and told me stories
of a world where humans can be built again,
where all that darkness
that has seeped into me, into you
can be cast away with a kiss
and mornings with warm breakfast, a hunger of two.
You placed your old sweaters beside mine
and that dark cupboard became a symbol
of an enticing spring that would never end.
Within all that beauty and warmth
how was I to know
that you were meaning to leave,
willing yourself to make that exit,
even when you welcomed me into your arms.
How was I to know that this darkness in you, in me
would continue to only grow in new directions
making us fear not the breaking,
but our breaking to be seen by each other.
I remember you waking up early
and trying to put the clothes of “forever”,
ironing out the new folds in your skin
so you can continue to love this life made of dreams.
I remember you placing my name
on your tongue, in the body of your thirst in a whisper
and then crying silently
knowing you cannot love this anymore.
Yet I kept my eyes closed
thinking of springs, and sweaters,
and a home filled with two of everything.
I kept my eyes closed giving you time
enough to find the strength and the numbness
to embody the person you were long ago.
I feel your weight at the edge of the bed,
I feel your sigh
and your hands still filled with care
thoughtlessly placed on me.
Love is so beautiful, isn’t it,
even in its end.
I clip your favorite weather on my hair-
this everlasting rain,
these sad sad endings chasing their tails,
these graves of the dear, the most loved dogs,
the end of all songs.
I wear them
just how you wear on your neck
all the things I can’t forget-
my swelling hollow body, my soaring hatred for myself,
the stories I tell in my head, the hopes that never come true
cause I can’t bear to speak of them,
the sad sad beginnings beheading themselves.
In the land of ghosts, we waltz dressed in each other.
We dream of being alive.
Life seems so possible right now.
Can we really trust this map?
And I won’t
till you give me
the story of those who made it
or even of those who followed it
as they sang of their love under their breath,
as they shouted their own name in blizzards,
and found their past stubbornly standing
waiting for the impossible
at the shores that were made to crumble.
Tell me how small fishes nibbled at their tears
as they looked back at the shore, at themselves
they will never return to.
Tell me what happened of them.
Tell me about where they stopped,
where they left their breath lingering.
Print me a book of 300 pages, devoid of observable facts,
for every map you push into my hands.
Give me a glimpse of the heart
of the one whose words I must trust.
And once I see, I swear I won’t hold back.
Even if all I see are tears
I will take only steps forward.
Even if all I hear are dissolving laughter
I would chase their ghosts, I will call out to them.
I will lose myself, lose my voice
in chasing their fates.
I don’t know what’s the point of this
Maybe I just want to wander, maybe I just want to hurt
and smile for someone else
without a hope of getting something similar back.
To see, without being seen.
But I know I can only walk for this.
I can only walk like this.
The howevers have replaced the forevers
and it is a beautiful change.
Now we can let the dying thing die at peace.
The fleeting feelings and their fragile wings
could have dropped and turned to dust with time
but there is something frustrating about slow,
about things that don’t end
when they drag their feet to the wrong doors
pretending to look for answers,
when everyone stares at faces they cannot bear to look at
waiting for someone to end things for them.
I am also guilty of all this,
of thinking that making new promises
will give me enough pressure, enough motivation
to follow through the life that I don’t really want,
of holding on
when I have no mind to continue.
However isn’t this a good excuse, a god-sent moment
to finally separate our stories, to forget this mess
that will never fix by itself or even by our half-hearted trying.
The river rises,
another flood is here
and I haven’t yet learnt to swim.
My friends are again at my door.
They knock, then they start crying.
They tell me about the happiness I can’t see,
they try to predict what you
would have wanted me to be,
and all I can do is laugh at it all.
My laugh, it must be as frightening to them as my tears now.
For even as they send me pics of kittens and quotes,
and stories saved from fire, stories filled with hope,
I hear their panic from the other side.
They know that just taking your name
had undone the strength
they tried to feed me for months.
And since now they can’t breathe
everytime I close my door, everytime I refuse to speak –
I am another hell to them.
And since I can’t let them break over me –
they are another pillow pressing on my face.
I hope for them to let me own my sadness.
I hope for them to not see and not know my pain.
But they do, they feel so much of me
that I have to open the door,
that I have to let them hold my hands.
I tell them that I’ll live no matter what
and they still tell me that it is not enough-
they want me to be who I was.
I can only smile at their cruel hopes for me.
Today I am a bit out of luck.
Today the sun shines bright
on the stairs to your home.
Today I am forced to see.
But it’s only for today though.
On days ruled by fog, I will again get to hope
that you might be sitting there,
till I reach the first cold step.
I can smile for the few minutes – the time it takes
before I realize everything else
in this world, that is not you,
can make more beautiful shadows of you.
Just like how, sometimes, even i don’t need you.
I don’t need you to cling to you, to beg you,
to feel your love, to be in love, to waste away like this.
Even when I wait though, I hope to quit on you soon.
Even in waiting I actually do not need you.
I imagine the days when I will not need this routine.
As people change and leave, I start hoping
that maybe I will also change and maybe I will also leave,
maybe one day I will forget the way to this place,
and these stairs will be just stairs
and not a place you couldn’t be,
and maybe life could be just life
not a story you are missing from.
And maybe when I also leave
there would be two shadows, not one
on these stairs.
Everything that makes me ache now
will be just what they should be-
things that will never give anyone any grief.
I look out of windows of places that I want to escape
and only after 24 hours, only after 12 years
in a poem about crows, in an essay about public school,
in a story, in a ruin not mine
do I find the space to figure out, to sketch
what I would have thought of, if I allowed myself to think.
If I allowed myself to feel, what I would have loved,
what I would have gladly run away from.
The lives that I couldn’t start, the roles I couldn’t end
they leave my skin and become the masks they always were.
I carefully place these masks
on the words that have nothing to do with me
they only hold the mould
that were too painful for me to confirm to or accept.