The morning after our earthquake
I examined the canyon between my legs:
Your swelling, ebbing and withdrawal.
The morning after our completion
All my jigsaw pieces grew new edges
Yearning to be part of a whole that would never exist.
The morning after our journey
I set sail in a paper boat folded from your letters
Watching myself drown in the ink of your fickle words.
The morning after you left
I could not swallow the pill:
Your promise of life left me itching; wanting;
Craving your withholding as much as I hated your giving.
In my youth I had so much time
Endless celluloid, press start to play
Record the quotidian day to day
If it recorded a pain; a loss
I could simply fastforward; completely engrossed
In moving away from humdrum distress, but
I did not know VCR tapes could find
Chinks in the recesses of my mind
To play motley pains and losses on repeat:
Stuck on you, and others like you
As if you were a reliquary; a shrine
A monument to all lost loves in life.
In my old age I know I will find
A screen of static fuzz, as
Oblivion erases my mind
But this I know to the very last day
I will still hear you calling beyond the grave
A nocturnal whisper; a ceaseless chime, Singing
O love – rewind, rewind
Fill your pockets with stone, each pebble
Measuring the exact weight your lungs
Are accustomed to carrying, for
Every breath is an exercise in recycling
ashes of your own internal entropy
Your mother and father’s fractured shadows
Your brother’s calloused hands on your thighs
Murky forms are the only clarity in amorphous
Hours, when you succumb to bitter convolutions
That harden as quivering multitudinous words
Like paroxysms of love that follow their absence.
They catch your breath when all you want is to
Prepare a dinner for your doting husband, but
When you’ve internalised all this external trauma
Even the certainty of his goodness cannot save you.
Virginia learned the hard way
If she cried woolf too many times
Her own mind stops believing. Then
The only one she trusts to carry her weight
Are waters that drown her with applause
So she would not be caught perpetually Between the Acts.
Everyone has their own Bell Jar, said Sylvia (or did she)
While hers roasted in an oven, incinerating
The Mad Girl’s Love Song, never sung again (I think I made you up inside my head)
If god considered what he made in seven days (does he exist?)
He’d see an ocean of fish trapped in oxygen jars
Drowning and undrowning in unique suffering (No one understands my pain)
It was Pandora’s fault. She held the first jar
That birthed the jars trapping all, without even
The semblance of hope that they can shatter (Your pithos became our prison, we think)
Struggling beneath frosted glass, we fail to see
Other jars and other suffering, but if we simply
Strained beyond our own fragility, maybe this
Veneer will fall away to reveal we were never alone, and never need to be.
(But I am alone in my feelings, surely?)
Drain the clear glass tonight, for
If you stare into the wall glass
You may catch glimpses of sadness in its shards.
Sadness, this raging compulsion
Fueled and doused by fiery liquid in shredded knuckles
The only antidote to bitter cold in your deep December.
You, adept at flinging stars
Into her eyes. She crumbles into herself
Unable to understand the only love language you know.
Pulp her like an orange until her innards
Resemble a shape you can read. Her juices are
Tender on your raw bones and may even remind you that
For you, December ends in ten days
For her, every month is December.
1. Half-human sea creature with the head and trunk of a woman and the tail of a fish
2. Mythical creatures noted for their beauty, exoticism and ability to seduce men.
My mother told me they found a mermaid
Wedged in a water pipe between the reservoir and the town.
Months of running water had washed her milky skin into
A translucent membrane, an open galaxy of her veins and bones
I forgot to ask her why one of our kind was there.
To you, we are less than human.
We are mythical beauties, we are sex symbols.
You prefer us with clam-shell bras and golden hair
Flowing over pinched waists and aquamarine eyes
Unable to accept that some of us have scaly heads.
The only one who made it into your folklore
Traded her voice for a pair of legs to win your love
Her greatest feat was metamorphosing into foam, for
We are remembered for our sacrifices and deaths;
Our beauty and loves, not for our humanity.
That is how you found her in the water pipe
For months she had been watering your plants,
Bathing your bodies, ingested into your systems
You drank her and used her without knowledge.
But that is how we are to you.
Lately I am not sure whether I have gills or lungs
Water and air have become equally difficult to inhale
My aveoli are drowning from oversaturation of fluids
My gills are suffocating from already filtered oxygen
So I float on surfaces, drowning and undrowning.
When will you use me too?
I buried you last year.
Like Egyptian pharaohs, your
Funeral was a stately affair.
I embalmed all your memories
In polished urns detailing our
Sultry summers surrendered to oblivion
I painted my lips crimson, with
The life once in your veins
Your chafed heart, weary
Of loving too much in vain
Has its special jar amongst my shelf of
Expired hearts burst from futility and shame.
You said ghosts were cutouts of souls
Plastered onto the cornea of the living
All their visions have a hole the shape
Of a tenacious shadow bleeding the past
Into the present, reluctant to die.
I was like that to you, you complained
Little did I know
By burying you like a pharaoh,
You achieved immortality.
Even if your eternal life is
As a spectre in my retinas
Always present, like fuzzy eyeworms
Disappearing upon focus.
Yes, haunt my dreams tonight.
If I did not bid you to die
I would never have known
The saccharine bitterness of
Falling asleep every night to
This sweet somnolent lullaby.