Your absence speaks words you cannot, pressing
against my back, as if it was always there, before

the beginning, before you, a starlight ghazal, a
friend , a lover, a thumb print before there was a

name, a mirage before the first sand, a certainty
before wonderment. This is not a void wearing

the mantle of pain, this has the skin of naked sky,
slips between my clothes like fingers of the afternoon

sun, not waiting, not asking, a shadow without
the form, alone, yet connected. This absence was

the prayer before the first moon, the promise of
always, the reverberation before the first summer

rain, this absence that lies in my bed, holds me till
I fall asleep, becomes a dream in the darkest hour,

becomes my oblation, becomes breath and salt and
blood, as if nothing, not even you, can ever be again.

52 thoughts on “Absence

  1. We all have tucked away a sorrow that is ever present and presents itself at unexpected moments. Beautiful poem.


  2. I love the way you make absence so palpable, Rajani, especially the lines:
    against my back, as if it was always there, before
    the beginning…’
    I love the sensuality of:
    ‘…this has the skin of naked sky,
    slips between my clothes like fingers of the afternoon
    sun, not waiting, not asking…’


  3. Tears. Often your words speak my heart, but never so much as this one. I lost my partner to a massive heart attack at age 46. Now I’m 66, and I have these aches still, marvelous wakings made so by what was such a meeting of mind/body/soul that the absence resounds. The days together were the summer of my life. Sometimes I wake from these flashes/durations with such a feeling of regret.


    1. Oh Susan… I do hope the poem didn’t bring you sadness. It must have been a beautiful love that still has its arms wrapped around you. Hugs all the way from here. Be happy my friend.


  4. I have come back here several times, but find myself at a loss for words. I am overwhelmed by this piece. I know every last one of the feelings you describe so eloquently. I understand them in my bones. And I leave because I end up shaking my head and asking why? But, today I remembered. We do this because, like a wise person recently said, ” love fights like hell to survive.”



      1. No, it doesn’t, yet it leaves a long and lasting impression. Perhaps the loyalty of absence is meant to teach us that although the individual might be gone, we have the knowledge and memory of being blessed with having loved and being loved? There are some who never do.



  5. This makes me want to reach inside my chest to stroke all the bits that have bled just like this at some point in my life, to tell them, “It’s all right. We’ll be okay. No, it’s not happening again. We are safe. The hurt is a memory.” But anyone who has felt this sort of love and loss (even if one is being loved again) knows that heartbreak never truly heals. It’s never-ending hurt we learn to embrace (or else). This is alive with the rawness that has made us its home, with the reminder of love that was so great that not even pain can lessen its impact. I love, love, love this.


  6. Ony someone who has experienced separation and loss could write a poem of this magnitude with such simple authenticity and emotion which translates to the experience of the reader. I found it very moving.


  7. There seems to be a bit of synchronicity going on! The only line I kept from a poem recently drafted and discarded: “Absence is the thing most apparent”. But ah, what you have done here with the presence of absence is so wondrous, sensuous and deep, I think it’s definitive! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Love this especially; “this absence that lies in my bed, holds me till I fall asleep”… so poignant!πŸ’ž


  9. “Take our words to bed with you
    dream upon them
    choose any ones you wish
    write us a poem.”

    – Audre Lorde, from “The Prism”

    This is how her poem, “The Prism”, ends. Read it this morning and noted it down thinking I’d use it somewhere. Seems apt after reading your poem just now πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just got Agha Shahid Ali’s translation of Faiz.. but once I finish it (can one?) I think I will finally buy Audre Lorde! I must read Prism as well to know what the context was! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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