there is a certain hard look
                              that I wear on my face.

I wish I didn't.

there is a blade of truth
                               that hides under my tongue.

someday, I will get angrier
                                        at you
                                              than you will allow me to.

here, on the edge of things,
                                    it is slippery.
                                             the blade cracks like glass.
                                                      the sky shatters.


rainy evening I

you woke me up, and
we’re here now. I write poetry
in the damp insides of my mouth
and try not to break your
overfull heart.

the sky shudders and darkens. I hide
behind a bower in the mango tree, and smoke
a lonesome cigarette. the smoke is a silver thread
the wind pulls out of my mouth. like a secret poem.

listen, I still don’t know
whether I’m living okay. but I have words
like loose change in my pockets, and dreams
the size of cities. light slants onto my 
fingers and paints them gold.

my mother and I are listening
to the music you sent me. some of it
leaves me billowing, larger than the frame
of my little bones. a rag left in the wind
that expands to the size of a sea.

in the distance, I hear a train rumble.
the sky is quiet now, it has spent its fury.
everything is dewdrops and damp skin and light.
the lost birds start to call to me again. I tell them

to wait. to go on. to find me again.



At breakfast, I try to keep my grief off the table.
I eat my slice of melon, look silently about the room,
watch morning unfold hazily in the front garden.

Behind me, a large picture frame has frozen
my grandmother's warm face into ice. My father
lights an agarbatti every morning to help it thaw, 
his mouth sombre under his flyaway hair and
sleepy eyes, in t-shirt and boxer shorts.

I try not to wear grief on my face. It is 8:30 am.
She has been dead five months now. I still forget.
Grief slips into my voice and makes it ragged;
I sip tea to soothe the tears I hide in my throat.
I burn my tongue, try not to drown.

My grandfather has small dark spots on his face,
like so many constellations. Three moles near his
left eye that make Orion's Belt. A shadow on his
jawline like the North Star. He is thoughtful --
or distracted, silent either way.

My father tells us the news. I wander, fall between
the cracks in my overworked mind, and end up
somewhere else entirely. Where we are sitting
is exactly where we laid her body, the day after
it happened. Everybody visited. The furniture
was moved out, and the floor covered in white. 
Everybody was weeping. It seems worlds away
from this quiet breakfast scene. To talk about her
now is to skirt an awkward edge, try not to hurt
too hard. Was she ever here? Was it only ever
silent grandfather and bleary-eyed father
at this table, and sometimes me?

Morning routine moves on like clockwork.
It is like every other day, except that I am home
and everything smells like a tragedy. On our way
back from the mountains in the highway dirt,
my sister pointed out a bougainvillea bush
painted sepia in dust -- it looks just like
an old picture, she murmured to me, as if
she was telling me a secret. On the next turn,
I saw a fire burning near a building, silently.
I never told.


April 30: Closure

This time
I will be satisfied even
with no ending lines,
no last conversations
in my mind. I know
I am difficult to love.

This time, I am ready
to leave without asking
for the world. I am ready
to walk out to sea and taste
the salty air the seagulls
fly in. I am ready to fly it.

I try to be softer, kinder,
less insistent. I forget how
to love, every day, like a
language that peels off
my tongue and hangs
in the ancient rooms.

I need no names
for the trees. No names
for the different kinds of
breeze. No names for the
oceans my body meets and
falls in love with, no names
for the love I own and disown.

It is only ever endings,
and not even
in a tragic way. It is only ever
sunbirds on a terrace building
a nest that cannot last. It is
only ever lamplight and ache.

Like A, I want the good work,
the hearty meal, the tired eyes.
I want the long journeys and
I want new learnings, sunsets
that taste of rose and gold,
intimacy that curls my toes
and hurts my lungs
in happy ways.

It is only ever endings;
I am satisfied with my lot.


April 29: weight

the unbearable weight
of still feeling these
things, of feeling the
pain of a stranger's
voice scorching
your skin, of
important words
when you thought
you never would.

my bed is full
of pieces of my life
i thought i threw away,
hid in ashtrays or tossed
out the third-floor window.

they come back in the form
of small things that itch, scratch.

the words still make me tender,
still make me ache, still hold me
underwater and naked and slick.

my body is a warzone
from a country i never saw.
i try to hold this alien grief
slow, gentle, in my palms.

i hold all the weight of
sky and forgotten dreams
on my shoulders, in my
eyes and in the words.


April 28: Waiting

I miss the particular
texture of my longing
when waiting would
taste of hope.

Waiting tastes now
of old food, familiar
sheets, an old sky.

It is too early
for waking, for
metaphors, for
summer rain.

The way home is through
cities of smoke with nothing
to lose. The way home is
a highway that looks like
a slow death. The way home
feels nothing like a home,
never will. Yet I go.

These new textures
are sweet in new ways:
honey in the hollows
of my collarbones
when my neck isn't
knotted up with ache.

I expect nothing.
I go.


April 27: Loss

Somehow, I watched
myself let go of old grief
like a swollen rose.

It is torture
to tear these petals
off my skin, these
bruises like birthmarks,
these cities of loss.

My ancient cries
hide in corners
of the house, still.
Underneath cobwebs
and drawers of junk.

You can hear
all the names
I have hidden
under my skin.

Somehow, everything
passes over into river;
gurgle and movement,
fresh awakening, dawn.
All stagnation reworks
itself as a morning.

All tragedies
mask themselves as
life, call my soul
to the stage
so I can pray
for a miracle.