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

Grasp

listening to your barrage of pop rock
the exclusive smoke rings
coming to me like lucid lyrics
the window flings open for the afternoon
to sings songs of rustling leaves
who spectate carefully
moment after moment
occasionally intruding
by falling into the room

the sun slants more and more
your breath enriched by nicotine
asking to be grasped

Mangoes 

Water runs down the facade
of the mossy bungalow, constant nectar
for moss and thrushes
loud crickets

A creeper breaks, diverts
along the bark of nilgiri,
a highway for meat ants

I threw a stone

…landed in a sea of snake lillies
engulfed by earth’s evergreen fur
I ran right through, fluttering
moths and calling gliding hawks
Dense mango trees
creaking with weight

The season tapped my shoulder
An old leopard smiled, a cobra awakened
by the scurry or langurs
I waved my cane stick like a magic wand
A cloud burst and fresh rays
touched the ground,the sea sent
warm regards with the breeze
behind us, soft thuds drummed
the forest floor,
a sweet fragrance brewed

the first mangoes

Already

A while ago in the train
Watching a crowded city float under me
I realised, in a moment, under a sky turning mauve
We have already made love 

It happened first
at the school choir’s rehearsal, when
your voice tried touching mine, again and again 
at last uniting, gradually undressing my song
in the invisible air

And then once when you answered my call late
and told me stories about your grandmother
you repaired my soul while it was faraway
Showering it with memories I hadn’t seen  

And on countless occasions, after long strolls
when we shared numerous cups of tea
On each of those moments we made love
Using only observation and poetry, with time
we let subtle agreements grow
into open passion, which lost control
and offered themselves in public,
who in turn saw
only two people
speaking  

But yesterday, for the first time, after words
We caressed using fingers, discovering
new hidden worlds within one another
I watched you disrobe, becoming
raw and beautiful, offering
you my entire self, I smiled at your closed eyes 

I had already entered
this gorgeous temple before
Aware
of how this prayer would end 

Black Coffee

flowers in the ceramic vase
cat hair clinging onto the chair’s cushion
unused candle stands rusted
and the lovely smell of morning
that arrived only a few minutes
after we fell asleep
the stains of roadside food on your sweatshirt
the roughness of winter in your hair
coarse palms, a call of the newspaper boy
unattended

moving your head away, distanced
by this room and that
i walk into your house
discovering things about you, like
reading a story book
a kitchen full of half done things
straining an old brew of pressed coffee
i watch the pigeons come to the door
where you touched my face for the first time

Places

I fell in love with you first
At the tea stall behind the 800 year old temple
And again a few steps later
At its ornamented entrance
Three days later, I fell in love with you
In the Thursday market strewn with rare berries
And the smell of decayed woodwork
From the nearby ruins of old houses
Over the years
I loved you even more, as you are
At the food stalls outside the square public garden
Sparkling with sounds of schoolchildren
I kept loving you as I walked through
Splayed offal of cut buffalo parts
Ridden by the stench of slaughter
And the churches and mosques that I stepped in
I loved you in all of them, on every wall, every unlit corner
I fall in love with you again and again
Touching every dusty surface in the old city
I sense that is where your heart and bones are
The rest of these cold, growing suburbs
Are just your obesity, the outer fat
I will choose to let them go

16.1.17

Hill Station

strawberries
you smudged your lips with them
winter settled outside like a story
untold but felt in bits
memory after memory
unfolding with the cry of jackals
at the time of dusk
which is also when the charcoal turned orange
and dinner was realised
the thick novels about Africa
the checkered muffler that smelt like you
and the folded crease of the bread wrapper
all together on one table
I shifted it aside and watched your reflection in the window
dotted by stars and occasional village lights
both versions of the night imprinted on one surface
it turned blue to black
the jackals went softer and the last of the charcoal
sent out a few sparks into the air
you sat next to me nearly shivering
the winter turning a page over
written slowly thereon

15.1.17