Illusions

In the interim cool of the oasis,
I forget about the desert.

I am grateful, I tell myself,
For the shade and the water.
This is what I wanted, isn’t it?
What I prayed for, for days
As I walked, alone and parched.

I try to remember back,
When I asked to be placed in the desert.
No memories come to mind.

A memory comes instead,
Of wanting adventures in rainforests,
Lush greenery and birdsong.
I was granted that wish,
And greenery paved way
For horrors of the jungle,
Beasts and monsters,
Ready to devour me.
I am sorry, I remember praying,
I didn’t know any better.
But this is what you asked for,
Didn’t you?

Rested now, I set about
Making this oasis livable.
Building castles out of air is a lot easier
Than building homes out of sand, I find.

I learn to accept the solitude,
The endless heat,
The freezing nights.
I should be grateful, I tell myself,
For the sunsets reflected in water.

Each morning, I see two eagles in the distance,
And I think idly,
That it might be nice to have a companion
In this empty, barren land.

And eventually, I find one
Rattling under a cactus bush.
This is what you wanted, isn’t it?
You asked for a companion.

Prayers can no longer be short, it appears.
There need to be clarifying clauses.
And sub-clauses.
And footnotes.

And there is no point wishing for rainforests,
If I am to end up being disillusioned.
And what is the point,
of wishing for unreachable destinations.

I wonder if praying for everything dilutes the power of the prayer.
Will I get nothing if I ask for everything?
Will I lose everything else if I ask for just one?

I am accustomed now
To my sand home,
To my battles with the rattles,
To the calls of the eagles,
To the reflections of the sun.

There are so many silver linings,
I tell myself.

I cannot remember the last time,
I reached a star that I actually aimed for.

The Color of Anger

They are mistaken,
Those who think that anger is red.
That it bubbles up like a pot on the stove,
And lashes out as boiling water,
Scalding others and cooling itself.

Anger is brown,
It is murky in its motivations
And opaque in its origins.

It is a clear yellow,
Making its way into the heart,
Into the stomach,
Acidic and biting.

It is green
As it keeps score,
Envious and entitled.

It is blue,
Made of tears,
And the sky at 4 am of another insomniac night.

But mostly, it is white.
Empty and unforgiving.

The Beast

This beast inside of me,
occupying space and time and memory,
has trapped me in prison,
constructed oddly – inside out.
Purring, gnawing at my hopes,
turning into lead and flowing in my veins,
pouring – steely cold – into my organs,
so that the weight of my body
becomes too much upon my soul.

Does it know that it is dulling my senses?

I wonder if it was always this monster,
Perhaps, the horrors of the world turned it wild.
Perhaps, it was scared and exhausted to be judged,
Perhaps, it was only looking for a place to hide.

Hold

Hold this hand,
that has held another many moons ago.
There will be something of the past
that I could not wash away.

Most nights, I will sleep contentedly
my head nestled on your shoulder,
my arm wrapped across your chest,
smiling lightly.

On some nights, I will wake up
And look past you,
seeing the ghosts that I thought I had banished.

Bring me back.
Take me to the window
And point out the stars
That have survived for light years
As the universe shattered and remade itself around them.

I will listen to your music
Tapping my foot gently to the rhythm,
And on most days
I will sing along with you
Not remembering that these songs,
I once sang to another.

On some days,
I will stop mid-song;
Something of the past caught in my throat.

Sing to me.
Erase the links between music and memory.
If not,
give me new memories.

In return, my love,
I will draw a silver lining on all your clouds.

I will write love poems to you,
Erasing the links between words and your memories.
If not,
I will give you new memories.

I will look out of the window
And point out through the stillness of the night
The breaking horizon turning crimson,
Just as you broke your darkness with light.

I will take you back from the window
And hum softly
So you can fall asleep contentedly once more.

And I will hold your hand,
with something of your past,
that you could not wash away.

Manthan (Churning)

We aired our grievances
And emptied our eyes of tears.
As time passed
We occasionally came across
Keepsakes from a past life,
Their hold on us no longer as strong
Their tattered remains as distant
As a somewhat familiar song on an untuned radio.

We made a project of “moving on”,
Taking out boxes of souvenirs
Little trinkets, old letters.
Forcing ourselves to read, to touch, to remember.
Say a word ten times,
It loses all meaning.
And so we read, read, read
So that memory lost all meaning.
And “moving on” transitioned from a presence of resentment
To an absence of love.

But is love an entire entity in itself?
Is it simply that which was directed at you,
Which has faded now?
Or is it also that which originated in me,
A relic of the person that I was?

Over and over, I churned the memories,
Each turn bringing to me a different facet;
Some to acknowledge, some to forgive.
All that remains now is unadulterated and pure
Detached from that ruiner, fate.

Ink

fountain pen beside the glass

Photo by Joanna Kosinska

The pen demands conflict,
from which it can write itself out,
if momentarily.

It demands empty calendars
and broken windows
out of which I can peer out,
the light hurting my eyes.

When plunged into brightness
And hope,
It turns, first confused,
then skeptical,
then angry,
before slowly beginning to smile.

I look relieved,
Believing that perhaps at last
There will be some resolution
between ordinary happiness
and anguished writing.

“Only a matter of time”,
It says quietly,
“An addict returns for her kicks”,
“And so shall you”.

Darkness has been my ink, I concede,
Torment is what made me poet.

The Essence of Love

person holding white petaled flower

Photo by Evan Kirby

Love tastes like water at first;
No indication of uniqueness
Or flavor,
Nothing that distinguishes it
from a glass washed down hurriedly
at the end of daily labors.

It is only barely recognizable
by its soothing coolness
that calms the frazzled throat
that has screamed and shouted
to be heard
and swallowed back tears
to hold up a tattered pride.

A flavor slowly forms,
So mild that it is surprising,
an essence like tea,
brewed over a low flame
for minutes, days, months,
sometimes a lifetime.