Serenade

Was last night’s serenade a dream?
The incandescence of aged tungsten warming, the bridge
whose ends welcomed dead poets singing
songs from forgotten years, their lyrics translating
into one another like a stew mixing
While your scarf waved gloriously, the seagulls
arising from an aligned sleep dashed in vivid numbers
and fishermen who threw their caps into an indigo sky
lost them in a maze of flaps
Across the bridge a town hummed with the pages
you left half-read as a child, now
they were soiled posters talking of a future
as you showed me around the lanes and carts
like a child running across her ancestral home, the
flags in the square, the market of unused footwear,
the roads fluid with passing spirits carrying little joys
You flew me across the circle into the town of lakes
where every boat carried your favourite food into floating homes
asking me silly questions, you trapped my reflection in a picture
calling it a painting – you said – this will mean much more later
as you rowed into and across brittle homes soaked in black water
calling out to former friends, all asleep, never to wake up to see you smile
Just then a sea appeared, the very end of the creek
you shed a tear, watching an orange moon descend
and make love to a tired ocean, ‘this is where I come
to talk to myself’, you confessed
as I watched the seasons change,
you wrinkled and became quieter

Parts

I wrote the parts before and the parts after;
The rest formed itself like the wind that sculpts the mountain
Its peak chiseled into a stillness
Clouds travelled over me while each syllable
Returned as an echo from the forest

The slow sadness of rain arriving, of watching
This moment melt into the next, none of this
Troubled the becoming sentences
Each of which, awaiting eagles,
Stood at the cliff

The Sorrowful Heart of a Nineteen Year Old Girl

I met her with an ice cream licking friend
Amidst a crowd where she wore a floral skirt
And rickety shoes, her eyes lacking an eyeliner
Her skin storyless and pure
She called me an unusual scientist with weird ears
And said my nose was like a rocky hill
Even my hair wasn’t spared, she thought of it
To be worse than the mane of an old mare
Later that month I’d find her
Strolling across the race course
Staring at horses speed past her morose eyes

Her morose eyes

The wintry tears and snowfall of regrets
Her perfect face cancelled by her imperfect self, even
The teenagers from the suburb
Felt she was too smart
But she was just a stupid girl
With a sorrowful heart

For days I’d let her talk, not just
The usual hormonal rants but even
Lyrics of favorite songs, oh for that matter
Plans to travel to Rome and back
We even booked our trains to China
But it fell apart once the phone cut

The phone cut

Years later I met her in a mall, she
Dragged around a cart filled
With discounted flour and tea, it even had
Vegetables and frozen meat, she looked
the same except for her skin

Dark in places, pale in some,
Her eyes slow to blink and her hair overdone
She stood in a line with
A heap of worries and despair, the winter
in her eyes colder, sparked
At the cash counter
When they touched a travel magazine
That made promises of blue seas
And islands with beautiful men,
She thought of picking it up, but then though,
Life’s a lie, and at 28, 
its rather better to look elsewhere

Dawn

5.15 am. I love touching the scar
on your right cheek. The whistle
Of a faraway train. Distant city. Your fingers
crawl into mine

What is with you today?
Your whispers dense, alluring
releasing primal images, clutching
Onto my lips and flowering. 5.17, the ceiling fan
creaks in unison with a passing cycle.

Half closed eyes. Your hair smells
of love and longing. The pillow absorbs
half-dreams and stores fantasies. I spend
the last few blinks in blue air
opening to your touch
every breath is a scene, dissolving
into a growing stream

Morning

Morning. A footstep plants In the balcony.
A city opens again

Eschewing the temple, an urchin
Runs into the butcher’s lane
To find hanging bodies
He carries their image forward

A coconut cracks. The thick demise
Of slow incense, fills a store
Water sprinkled for unseen deities

Inside the curtain inhales, the lungs
Of the room charred by smoke
And last night’s debates, scatters
In leftover scraps and bottles

Your second alarm rings; murky and withered
You rise to go to battle

Premise

I understood the premise, but before the curtain fell,
the ending passed through and left me empty, hanging
in the dream I left behind at twenty – you scurried across your stage
the white starlings hopped about wondering
who the man in grey kaftan is, you

how I ran into the salt pans, the mirages
deftly slapping me one after the other, the vultures
eating away at my debts – you never surface, in an exposed corner
you typed away into the sky, both friend and father

today in the audience, darkened by the mask of not knowing
what is before and after me, I felt you finally
as man and soul – you gripped your portrait and caged each word
in your voice, I understood how you’re here but then you’re not
living in stories you wrote before your final drought