or, Baffin Island
I move beyond the fact of you, but lay atop my suitcase on a 5th avenue sidewalk holding everything to do with you and the ground continues to rock left then right. My sodden back sore against the canvas cloth, shirt flaps out from my skin and brown air settles inside my mouth. You are straight north from here, four hours north I could touch down in tundra but the water I lay buoyant on clogs. I tell the people around me we’re near, they make tributaries around me, that it isn’t far from snow-taste water that blinds your tongue, there are foil packets and scum crusted bottles up there too, I spout at those who stop to listen, just the same they smoulder away in a hot heap. There is nowhere to dispose of anything, you see, I tell the old lady on the way to the airport who listens to the lack of trees, the fish petrol smell, how it’s all dusty and thawed in August, you’ve been up there then, she asks, as I am remembering how much I enjoyed the velvet ripple of seal skin along the heel of my palm, no, I reply.
To the beach
Don’t turn around because the thing you turn from is still there. One lane somehow holds objects to burst in a forward spreading berth. We’ve moved onto flat, where there aren’t great bristling hedges to cushion the gravel driving west. There is no point in asking how long, its ‘how long’ made clear if we see more than a single house. Those clusters fall away again as we take the coastal path. We wind and fly past tiny churches tucked further into the hillside and doors my father must duck to enter. We graze on crumbling hunks of bread, dairy held inside, we unwrap thin parcels of over-yellow butter. Yesterday, I sat at the end of a long wooden table and worked all afternoon, briefly stopped when my sandwich came, watched the window ahead and two women sitting just before it who appeared to have been apart for some time. Later, I clumsily sought my purse standing up while the waiter made small talk about the work I had done. I felt you would have smiled to see me struggle sweetly with thick hair and unnecessary layers. Later, sitting downstairs in the house I grabbed at my scalp still weighed down by your messy cadence. My chest wanted to groan open because this remembering was a pleasant experience and added to my day, my anger pretender worn out. A layover at the supermarket, the last stop for a while my mother warns, from here on, you either have it or you don’t. Passing over the bridge, I look out at the boggy heather and how the air is thick with fog and salt. Further out climbing alongside failed stone parameters, I wake up to the offer of fruit pastilles. A desire to move away and have you follow has set me on a single track highway, asleep in the back, mind you. When I was last here with the only friend I’ve kept since childhood, coming out of the shower through the sliding glass doors and dropping my towel on the stones at the beach, I thought, that if I were to bring someone here who had not discovered it of their own circumstances then I ought to get obsessed in an easy manner beyond common infatuation. To look over, if we had walked out to some view and be sure you would smile back in an easy way, rather than feel sick at every change in your face. Not worry about you bleeding out on the carpet put down to insulate or onto the grass.
I A wide Italian villa once upon a time, when my parents were young, or less than a spin around the sun ago. Summer was cruel forcing rituals to cease, making time less expensive, sitting me down at the grand piano. Fruit was too sweet and the juice was no fun, dripping from my fingers, how could I dare if I didn’t care. Phones were not useful ringing through the night, only when I was asleep, as you wouldn’t expect a ghost to pick up. Sleep was heavy like the water hanging there, outside the window, eager to infiltrate my books and my dress. It was the summer, after you left. II Time is not real if you still are here when really you’re not but again have you even been? III The me from this summer – is not really myself – melts away like mango ice cream – is now my favourite flavour – deep inside the pool – is shaped like a memory and I could drown in it – misses the air like you – are sitting in a shadowy spot on the grass – but divine is the silence – is only half as good as your laugh in my ear – when I run out of bubbles – are bursting in my stomach when you caress it – and emerge from the water – is as cold as my skin in winter – to bask again under the sun – is as warm as your hands all year long – in the spot where you once were resting. IV Who’s left with the ghost spots? ghost spot you ghost I spot V You are now back in the City (alone? I don’t think so) a fleeting distraction stealing you from the street (let it be me, I pray) that was once leading you to my place. Listen to me whisper, a memory, or a daydream Meet me there at midnight, climb up the fire escape until you reach the balcony, close the faulty window and braid your limbs with mine like the treccia that we’ll eat in the morning, fresh out the oven. Picture me there even if I never was, make me your ghost Please remember (I remember everything) VI ghost spot / ɡəʊst spɒt / an area or place marred by the memories of a person/s who is now gone or of a relationship that is now dead. These memories are usually haunting and melancholic.
the view from up here (i hope you will understand)
I – or i? I, myself, interlocutor, have spent a few years now trying to grasp why young girls and boys like to ignore capital letters. I should know, I’m one of them but I was never able to reach the bottom of the issue. have they untrained their hand or their mind? do they think of themselves as tiny with a raincloud upon their head? they’re so self-centred, they probably do. However, I have collected some of their reasons i refuse to write in capitals because i hate capitalism this grammatical system is the language of patriarchy and i want out i think all letters are equals and should be treated as such i just think the words look prettier consequently, i experimented with this anti-system and i started to get its appeal. but you know what? from up here i see no difference. all heads look pretty flat and you cannot dwell on their height. girls, why bother destroying a house when you can ridicule it from the nearest skyscraper? II Self-Worth as a Mythical Creature: She Was Raised By The Goddesses. Athena Hera And Aphrodite Would Rarely Agree But They Did On Her; She Had To Be Shielded. She Was Golden As Wheat, Wise As Time, Thin As Golden Hair. She Made Love To Girls And Boys So They Could Fall In Love With Her; She Never Said No But Never Forgot To Ask First; Sometimes They Were Not Ready. The Love She Left Was Of The Most Wondrous Kind; It Didn’t Need Or Evoke Anybody Else. iii from up here i wonder would you choose to spend the night with me? i’m closer than you think i’m as closed as you need come open me! please! love me open! hug me tall! IV Us young girls, we joke about dyeing and cutting our hair at the smallest inconvenience. A boy I met last year once told me I was the only person with dyed hair he knew who hadn’t dyed it in the midst of a mental breakdown. (don’t be fooled, he was one of those who disregard grammatical rules.) I’ve bleached the substance out of my hair until it was feather-light, golden, and thin. But still, no trace of good old Self-Esteem. Back when he told me I still had some left and I was content with writing this way. Now I can barely tuck strands behind my ears. Hair grows back and thicker, but does self-worth too? i’m tired of thinking in terms of myself! v self-righteousness is contagious, we can share it with a kiss. i’ll have to be hypocritical now. the last thing i told the boy that i loved was don’t die please. haven’t seen him in years. the view from up here is quite crisp and i bet he would have said the urge to jump is too big. if i hang myself upside down then i become an ! will you pay more attention or will it annoy you more? oh yes, i am talking to you! i know you think i used too many !’s! i know how desperate they make me look! i’m only clinging with my right hand now. i am deeply sorry for directly addressing you, person but i hope you will understand.
Museum of Innocence
Your sweater grey eyes are heavy and the room is as quiet as a wrinkle in a finger after a hot shower. You start to say something. I half listen, moon-drunk on the raptures of gravity. I don’t know if you know, but some nights I like to imagine myself the curator of your sighs. Writing little blurbs on their nuances to stick on spackled walls. There are codes the body cracks without asking, Like muscle memory. Like the way every time I draw a little house On a scrap of paper, I think of Mama. Of how beautifully held I felt. The way my hand moved like magic. I can’t remember if I told you about that But some nights I picture that same house In the city of your half asleep breath. Peeping out over the skyline. I can’t remember if I told you about that But it doesn’t really matter. Favourite silly nucleus of all my little orbits: Refrigerator hum breathing beside me. All the dictionaries of all our meandering words Have fallen asleep tucked in their own sheets. We already know What everything means.
Dadu,* when will you forget me?
Today, you asked me for directions to the bathroom In your own house and I felt relieved That you remembered my name. The matter-of-factness of familiarity Is so unbearably, selfishly sweet. Even if it never make any promises For tomorrow. I’ve moved away from home. Lay my achievements on the coffee table You set your feet on Only once a year And we watch reruns of Ramayan on Zee tv together. Your newspaper grey eyes, Dark once, only open occasionally. Between naps, You ask me how long I’ve been away. If they have chutney in London. How long I’ve left still. And I rest my head on your shoulder thinking About how if there is a number for everything, which there is, then there must be for this too. A number of times my heart will stop When you look at me And pause for a second too long Before a flicker of recognition comes to pass. A number of times before It doesn’t. A number of days, Of poems, Of scholarships, before You’ll stop saying I’m too thin. Stop saying I worry too much Stop saying My name, A small after-lunch-peppermint Dissolving entirely away in your mouth; Leaving nothing but cold And the ghostly sweetness of an unreachable thing.
*dadu: grandfather, in Sindhi