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.


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.


silhouette photography of woman in front of wheat plants

Photo by Ryan Holloway

The first memory is that of Post-it notes.
I can clearly see them in my head,
lying in the organizer on my desk.
I need them to make a list of immediate things to do —
administrative details that I normally avoid:
documents, signatures, people —
and to add a little note reminding myself to be brave.

The desk in question is half the world away.
So, the second memory is that of processing distances,
in metrics not of kilometers or miles,
but of time and money and forms and embassies.

I keep my memories hugged tightly to my chest,
hesitant to let new seeds fall into this new earth
and become saplings whose roots may one day tug at my heart.
I cannot let that happen, I decide.
There is only so much space in my heart,
to call a place home.

For weeks, I refuse to furnish the bare walls,
adding only what is absolutely essential.
Three months in and I am distressed to find
that the room has taken on a personality nevertheless,
reflecting the little clutter of my hopes, some of my quietness.
I let it continue though — even aid it a little,
adding a touch of greenery,
a touch of motivation,
plain sheets tacked onto plainer walls.

What I have walked into is tangible,
something significant,
an important chapter that will need to be in the book of life.
Because this, no matter how confusing I find it to accept,
is happening.
Milestones are duly being passed,
my own speed perhaps not matching.

I am being pulled in different directions,
engulfed by a nostalgia,
not for the past,
but for a future I would not live.
I wonder if I will ever unpack without mentally tracking what will need to be packed again.
I wonder if it is possible to be whole again,
to consolidate the bits of myself that have scattered in different places,
that are scattering still,
like confetti of celebrations,
or perhaps, like ashes of what I gave up.

The Muse

sun flower field

Photo by Daniel Bernard

Depression taught me about words,
And allowed me to find light in the lines
Slanting across pages
Of old diaries, and loose sheets
Crumpled in corners of drawers.

Standing at the cusp
Between light and dark,
I looked back at empty rooms,
Light streaming softly through the crack between the curtains.
In front of me,
An open field,
Sunlight showering.

I wondered if pens and parchment could be really found in the light.
I wondered if it mattered.