Love

Crunches your heart like a tin soda can. Throws it in the trash can. Takes it out. Your heart is now a flower. Plucks the petals. Won’t stop plucking. Until the stalk remains. It falls on ground. A red shoe steps on it. The wind blows it to a crack in the sidewalk. The stalk turns into seed. Someone must have wished really hard for a tree. Maybe those very lovers who will carve  a heart with their initials into it three decades and seven years later. Maybe those people who believed they could give this love a shape, a name.

 

***

Love. Crunches your heart like a tin soda can. Kicks it off the sidewalk. The rain weeps over it. Paint melts in a hailstorm. Love sneaks up behind you. Flirts with breath, takes it away. Now, the space in your chest and the space in the crunched tin soda can is the same. You find it on the sidewalk. You pick it up, but it doesn’t feel like litter. So you walk, holding the tin can in your left hand, the same way you hold your crunched heart in your rib cage. Awkwardly. Not knowing what to do with it. Wanting to hold on, not being able to let go.

 

***

Love. Crunches your heart like a tin soda can. But uncrunches it at once, so suddenly it’s just the way it was, except for the marks. Is it empty? Who knows? But who cares, because we’re dreaming. We’re dreaming of tin soda cans that turned into themselves again, we’re dreaming that the emptiness doesn’t matter, we’re dreaming that someone cut the top off it and turned it into a candle stand or a flower vase. The candle flames will never burn out.  The flowers will never wilt.

And I will never wake you up to whisper that it was a dream.

Jump

April was a shit month,

Although, if you’re a poet,

There is no such thing.

There is still the way the sunlight fell on the branches at 2.40pm,  and the rajasthani sky turned bluer than you would believe, and an old woman held out a garland for you to take to the temple, underneath  the sanctuary of her wrinkled, familiar smile.

There was the way that anger rusted a part of you into a stone that could not be broken. And the way arms fitted around you, in those moments where gravity hurt more than usual. And the way your father continued to wake up and make you a fruit smoothie each morning.

And the way you hid things from people who loved you, because you wanted to spare them the knowing. The way that your mind played tricks on itself, just to survive- and someone said PTSD and you understood what they were getting at. And the way that after 23 days of daily poetry, something tripped you so bad, that for a while, you weren’t able to put words to paper.

April might have been a shit month, but it ended with your feet on the ground.

And now they want to jump.

 

Things I need

Three spoons of sugar

A little forgetting.

A tree wrapped around my backbone

Ocean air, salty-

with a hint of french fries.

A horizon that has held me in its arms before

A lullaby that feels like feathers

A puppy, asleep in my lap

The sun on my face, through the leaves –

While the wind braids all the worries in my hair

into echoes.

Backbone Burnout

” You’re not going to be able to help everyone. You need to know this.”
” I know this. I do. But I don’t know what I’m meant to do knowing this. Stop trying?”

***

Days when your head
Is too heavy for your backbone
So you need a shoulder

Just to exhale
Tired.
Can’t.
Go-
On.

While hands stroke your hair
Like tomorrow
Will be another day
Like tomorrow
Will not
be the same.
Like tomorrow
Your backbone
Will carry your head
Again

Staccato

When your anger
Seizes your hair
Drags you across the threshold

Do not dig your feet into ground
Instead, surrender.

Instead,
Go limp. Let yourself be pulled into the fire.

You will not return the same.

Deciding to be full

The breakfast buffet that you ended up flirting with-
(Shouldn’t do that again.)

Pizza at 3pm.
(Love, again. So much so that you need to KNOW where the mozzarella cheese came from.)

I ignore home cooked dinner in favour of emptiness.
Everyone else has seven different tastes on their plates.

At the temple, ash and sugar.

My aunt’s house. Dinner has leftovers.
(In my defence, she makes really good dhokla. And it’s been 5 hours since I ate.)

For all practical intents and purposes,
my grandmother refuses to count any eating outside her home as legitimate.

So here I am, at 10pm mixing dal-chawal with a spoon
And my grandmother standing in the kitchen asking me-
Tumne roti nahi khayi, kyun?

Sit here. Eat.

IMG-20170411-WA0005It is useless to try to write a poem about food. Contemplating the meals I have eaten on the marble floor of my grandmother’s house, I remind myself, it is useless to try and write a poem about food. A love that tastes like the first food you’ve eaten, cannot be explained. The simple fact that someone loves you enough to cook your favorite food when you visit, cannot be elaborated on. The bare reality that we need to eat to survive, need food to nourish us since we are born, cannot be altered. A meal is just a meal, after all. But a meal is my grandmother’s hands in the dough, her hands tossing the sabzis, the way she tries harder to make this meal special, the way she nags me to eat more when I’m already full. A meal is the most elemental offering of nourishment. I am not skilled enough to turn a love like this into a poem that makes sense. But, here is the first, incomplete attempt.

***

It is impossible to write a poem about food.

Still-

My grandmother makes a meal of memories
Tastes my mouth has nearly forgotten.

It is impossible to write a poem about-

how your memories from the mouth of your childhood, can be fitted into a plate and touched, tasted, swallowed, and lost inside you

Grain and vegetable turn into something nourishing blood, breath and bone.

The food I am fed
Becoming the way I stretch my arms before sleep,                                                                     Laughter rising from my throat,                                                                                                         heartbeats, the filling and emptying of my lungs.
It is a simple plate of food,                                                                                                                   and everything tastes familiar.

It is my grandmother loving me in the uncomplicated way I will strive to love  too-

You are here. Here is dinner.                                                                                                               Eat.

Kitestring/Finitude

When you want to reach someone else

But find yourself dissolving on the way-

When you get there finally, and

Everything that was yellow, is now green.

When your voice is a kite string

lost around your throat

When you realize they cannot untie you-

And you stop breathing-

but have to start again because

you know this much, by now.

So, with this kite string situation-

Now, you have to look for your hands

(all over again)

If not your wrists, check your hair.

If not your hair, check your coat pockets

If not your coat pockets, then his coat pockets.

Keep checking. They’re bound to be somewhere.

When you find your hands have been returned to you

You will blink at them, smaller, tougher-

Thinking the same word back to front.

Finitude.

tumblr_n9p4sihhl71ticsaho1_500

 

Power cut

Watch how the darkness

Makes everything softer

Turns voices into echoes

From far away.

Here,

Only the ticking of the clock

Between these heartbeats.

Here,

Only the sound of breath

lingering and leaving

your waiting chest.