#RIP – my friend

I try to piece together the life
he must have lived
how long it has been, how little I know
how little everybody seems to know:
puzzle bits scattered on the table
too many that don’t fit
so many misplaced
how many no one knows are lost —
a freeze frame in the continuum
a picture unfinished forever
#RIP my friend

we need witnesses for our being
for our enduring
not for the parts we share but
for what we speak with the moon at
two in the morning
for what has broken and healed and
broken and healed
scar tissue plump with unwritten stories
for the falling, for the failing,
for the days we built ourselves
calloused hands shoring up our souls
an old sweater stuffed into the hollow
left by a missing brick
#RIP my friend

a goodbye needs to be accountable
if it knows there won’t be another
it should become sky, bell, memorial:
who said goodbye first when we met last
what did you say before you left
did I turn away
did you not hear
now I hold the wind and the rain
and a blur of may-may-not-have-beens
memory does not keep well if we don’t
retrieve and cajole and embellish:
remember, I want to say, remember the time…
but a piece falls unnoticed at the far
end of the table
and all that hums is the silence of
too many, too many years gone by

go gently, go in grace, go to that place
where dreams do not end
#RIP my friend

Theorems of loss

What if you found a one-rupee coin lying in the dust on market street? Is it yours to keep?

What if you wanted to give it away? Is it yours to do what you will?

What if no one cares these days about a rupee more or a rupee less? Is it not something still?

What if the laws of belonging don’t apply to the little things, what if the theorems of loss cannot prove what doesn’t matter? How do their stories end?

And what if I forgot your lips and your eyes and the pain, what if that time fell soundlessly into a timeless sea?  Not mine, not yours, whose is that night instead?

sixth cup of tea —
this morning
is neither here nor there

Bird Angels

The birds used to come to the square then. No one knew where
they lived, but they arrived by the dozen with the first stripe of

dusk, ate from our hands as we crumbled hours that had turned
brittle with waiting, minutes baked into bread with the salt of tears,

pieces of us, dark, dark from wanting the light. When birds consume
our fears, our memories, when our shadows slip down their throats,

their feet turn white, their wings grow wide, they turn into angels
that deny the night. When pain is scattered like seeds, they flutter

down, impatient moons in rapid descent, eager for stories, that can
never be told. Last night I saw you alone by the fountain, more

silhouette than man, your fist full of broken dreams, the sky above
you empty. I knew that you had heard the silence. Birds fed on angst

and agony and sin, that learn about love and eyes and separation,
birds of our dusk can become white angels but they never sing again.

On Dark Nights Like This

a sallow-faced wind patrols the yard this morning
eyes narrowed, hands deep in its grey long coat
like those dour spies from old black and white movies,
there has been little rain
just the odd gust driving ashen clouds
wary of its own incontinence,
we let the silence mark a path through the living room
back and forth, as if talking about him
would change something,
the air or the colour of the light
and we could never enter the room again,
you’re trying not to look at the picture in the corner
as if seeing it would change nothing,
it would never walk in from the kitchen again,
clothes following in metered rhyme,
down the street, the moon slips into a letterbox,
the night sets up a vigil for dawn,
the wind stops to ruffle the head of the neem he planted,
on dark nights like this
who knows if the memories come first
or the tears?

The Paradox of Impossibility

some dots should not be connected,
some lines never drawn,
where wanting is consequence preceding cause,
where folly is tomorrow’s aversion to turn, to pause,
where one cry meets another, not in silence,
but in the birthing throes of a scream,
where one fire meets another, not in the dark,
but in the conflagration of a dream;
some lines should not be connected,
some boxes never drawn,
where truth is the preoccupation of failure,
where love is the extravagance of loss,
where words leave secrets, not in perfidy ,
but with the indifference of impiety,
where faith leaves hearts, not in discord,
but in the paradox of impossibility;
some boxes should not be connected,
some patterns never drawn,
some dots should not be connected,
some lines never drawn.

So Quickly

so quickly,
even before time has scrubbed the stains of life from its trembling hands,
even before the heart and mind have unveiled their infinite mirrors of denial,
so quickly,
from she and her,
death had birthed a body.
it needs to be covered.
it needs to be moved.
the oil lamp in the corner scorches the air that last burst free from her lungs.
without warning.
without knowing.
it lies on ice.
it is covered with flowers.
one marigold is already wilting on the summer floor.
so quickly,
they lift it,
four shoulders where once she was cradled in four arms.
to the fire.
to the light.
this home
like a tortoise shell,
that it carries away as it leaves,
and the sky rushes into the emptiness,
grey and cold.
i rest my head on the cloud walls
and we try to weep together,
the porch wet with stars,
with time, the spots on its hands now raw and bruised,
with the mirrors, within the mirrors.
so quickly,
she was born.
she was gone.
when death birthed a body.
without her name.
without her pain.