Act One.

and that scene, over and over: you can be anyone
you like in your own drama, but you choose the

girl spreadeagled on the ground, life slipping
away from her, one truth at a time. Or the one

with wings, hovering above — they look at each
other, with the same eyes, incredulity awash in

fake moonlight, both saying at the same time, “I
know you.” When the curtain drops, there is

silence, or a lone shout, or a nervous whisper, never
the same, never different, and you tell yourself,

that is their drama, they are playing to another
audience. For them, their act may have just begun.

 

 

Closer than fear

Is there a way to hold a question? Not as close
as lust, closer than fear, arms closed to the

answer? Or is that the way the question holds
you? In this monsoon, as evening turns to night,

without drama, I try to write a love poem, without
tropes, without the moon, objectively — without

love. But too much is made of love which, like life,
is passion in passing, matter in transformational

happenstance: only this thought, born of thought,
nameless, formless, can last unchanged forever —

love like a question will outgrow your hands, learn
to walk, yearn to walk away: only this thought will

stay — that, for a while, love felt warm, like it
belonged, as if, for a while, it was the closest answer.

Some things just are.

The transformation of is to was — like an overcast
morning, the inevitability of sunshine and the

possibility of rain are not equal, there are all kinds
of ways to foretell all kinds of things — yet, an

umbrella bears consideration. Some things just are.
Like seeing you now across the street and not

stopping, not slowing down, not wondering where
you’re going, not remembering an hour later, all

the times it rained and words got wet — some words
that were quiet, cold, running down heated skin,

some warm, dissolving in light tapered on window
sills — not thinking at night that some things should

not be together, like sunshine and morning rain:
rainbows too are surely errors of judgement.

One leaf.

One leaf. One leaf falling from bough to mud. So many
considerations. Height. Gravity. Size. The side the wind

woke up this morning. One leaf. Not in the sky. Not on
earth. Both still and moving. Both alive and dead. Both

watcher and watched. Both character and story. Life, at
best, is only this bleeding wound: falling, is a necessary

ritual. You only have to ask the rain. On a night like this,
when the heart is stubborn, when skin aches for skin,

when night itself is only a silhouette cast upon a distant
moon – on a night like this, you only have to ask love.

at 3 AM

But the earth unrolled is wider than this patch of
sky – what is the point of an infinite universe that

won’t fit in your eyes? See, the moon is only peering
through a window — what a lot of fuss over a curious

voyeur. What we cannot do, gods will. What we
should not do, gods must. There are things you can

debate with the gods at 3 AM — the density of
darkness, the subtraction of life, why the physics that

keeps the moon afloat cannot balance a heart. Gods
are loose-tongued at that hour, they will confess light is

trickery, that what you see, you don’t. But talk quickly,
at the stroke of dawn, the last god turns into a sun.

The tether of want

I walk faster than my solitude. But only as far as
the tether of want. Then I wait, in its overhang

for silence to catch up. Want like a bitter salt rubs
slowly over broken skin. Pain seduces with its

mouth, speaking, always speaking. You learn its
words by walking with the full moon. Who knows

what the moon does when your head is lowered.
What kind of love requires you to lift your face in the

darkness? Aloneness, however, is mute – a friend
that crawls under you so it can look you in the eye.

It rained again today…

As if life was found,            accidentally, when
we took a wrong turn from             death: a
shell lying on a shore               that

it shouldn’t, that

it couldn’t,

yet, within it, the            roar of the entire
ocean. Today, I held life up          to my ear, it’s
voice was wet like rain, it       wondered

if I should.

If I could.

The edge of what you don’t know and cannot feel

Then you make lists of those you loved (some true) and
those who loved you back and suddenly you understand

distance and space and curvature, the bigness of small
things and how to solve for x. Doesn’t a lifetime only

get you to the edge of what you don’t know and cannot
feel? God, for instance, is a mango tree, flowering in

season, interrupted by pests or a lot of sunshine or a
little rain. Four years ago, a couple made crazy adulterous

love under one tree and it refused to fruit all summer (this,
entirely, is true). There is a reason why broken parts

together weigh more than the whole (this too, is true,
because to know grief is to know heaviness, to know how

to trap air in your open fist). But all this, because I was
sitting under a mango tree, praying it would not rain (not

true for clouds are clouds), because so much comes apart
when you have to run, mid-thought, to where it all began.

Makeshift Eden

Dusty bougainvillea — the pink of rotting beetroot peel —
necks craned over the fence, hibiscus heads nodding,

somehow white petals staying white, an advertisement for
peace or surrender, even though war is in perennial bloom.

From skin to earth to sky, the premise for battle is made
holy. We have perfected want so it resurrects itself out of

reason. Reason that keeps us safe. Reason that makes gods
make us make gods. In a scratched pan, over an open fire, we

fry fish, fresh from the lake, poisonous, perhaps, from
effluents and humans, but we have scrubbed it with so

much turmeric, countered the bitterness of chemicals with
garlic and spices, this scrap of makeshift Eden, its back against

this city – we act like the air is fresh here, act like the stars
are visible, act like it’s fine, us being here, us drinking wine, us

being where we cannot see the bodies, us eating dead fish,
their eyes white, staying white, the colour of burnt fear.

A crow flies backwards

a crow flies backwards
over the house
in which a young man took his life

the old shaman says everything
must go back to that moment
when hope abandoned his heart

the earth must kneel
and surrender that time
to the universe —

but resurrection is not enough,
doesn’t that kind of death
demand retribution?

shouldn’t the cosmos fold itself
into the darkness
where pain turned to harm?

the crow lands back on a bough
and swallows its song,
there is the weighted silence of dread

eternity bows low, a sun
repurposes the sky — who will ask,
who will grant forgiveness now?