Want/need

 

The love we want

Is seldom the love we need

Humans are built for destruction

Hearts crave and pine

For things we cannot

Should not have

Jagged edges will cut skin

Rivulets of blood painting

Stories of love lost

 

What happens then

When I choose the love I need

Throwing caution into

Wild wind

Does home wrap itself

Around my body in

Familiar arms, suddenly new

Uneven edges blooming

Love not asking for change

To cut away the imperfection

 

Mutilation is not always beauty

Destruction may be poetic

But there is only so much

You can bleed

Before veins run dry

As rivers in an Indian summer

Before your heart skids

To a broken standstill

 

I realise I spent too long

Chasing butterflies

That caught in my throat

Bruising skin and soul

Maps of heartbreak

Pain wrapping round my spine

Spreading its wandering fingers

Fireworks will fizzle and fade

Ashes slipping from your lips

Comfort stays

Fingers wrapped in yours

Till the end

 

-Gautami

 

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Memoriam

Parchment skin

Fingers stained, nicotine

Painted under your nails

Years of use that

Won’t wash away

Boxes of cigarettes

On my shelf

That no one will touch

Ever again

 

A whiff of cologne

Fills my lungs

Strangely foreign

Reassuringly familiar

All at once

Funny how bodies adjust

To missing spaces

But crave what left

All the same

 

Dust gathers

On your windowpane

A losing battle

Desperate hearts

Struggling to beat

The inevitable crawl of time

Everything moves on

Why can’t I

 

Realisation tickles

The soles of my feet

The tide is rushing in

But I am not ready

Waves of sorrow

Will not stay

At bay

Loss will sweep me away

No matter what I do

 

Pain knocks on my door

Soft, soft

Open up

This is not a visitor

You can refuse

Doors can be broken

Wooden splinters sticking

In bruised skin

Pain seeping into your blood

Somehow anyway

 

Parchment hearts

Beat no more

Grey remains smouldering

In a cracked ashtray

The stars burn on anyway

I look at you in them

Do you know, my love

The silence of the mornings

Breathe your name

 

|Two years since you’ve gone to a better place, but I’m still saying goodbye. I miss you.|

-Gautami.

Missing

Missing

Is a funny thing

I miss you, I miss me

The way it used to be

I miss coral bleeding across

Bright blue sky

The warmth of foggy breath

And a wet nose at my knee

 

I miss tea, too sweet

Biscuits, just right

And brown eyes begging

To give him some of mine

I miss blue-lined irises

That fascinated me

Through childhood

Realising only later

How beautiful and heartbreaking

Defects could be

 

I miss a roof

I could pretend was a galaxy

Cobwebs were nebulae

And streaks of dust comets

Burning a fiery path

Across my mind’s eye

The lingering smell

Of cigarette smoke

Grounding me to reality

 

Missing

Is what you are

Like the person cut

Out of a photograph

You slipped away, quiet

In the fanfare of Dusshera

Visarjan had a different meaning

For me suddenly

As our family drowned in grief

And the torrent of our tears

 

Your body returned

To dust and ashes

Amidst celebrations and crackers

The devi made her yearly trip

To be immersed

I know she will return

Next year

I wish you could

Come back too

 

But we shall hold on

Keeping you alive

In memories fresh and old

In photographs I find anew

In old pains bleeding again

Until they dissipate once more

Like the mist you’d watch

From your window

Until it settled on the leaves

The next morning

 

-Gautami.

Other

Does your love

Think of me

With smiles hardening

And eyes losing sudden lustre

Conversation drying up

Like water in desert sand

Heart beating faster

In fear of losing you

 

I laugh

At the idea

That anyone could worry

About you and me

How can you lose someone

To another who has no grip

On a flitting heart

That cannot stay still

At least not for me

 

For yes

Perhaps we were good together

Laughter simmering

On the pink of

Bitten lips

And warm cheeks

Arms holding tight

And shy glances

But it all slipped through

Like the strings of a kite

Between childish fingers

Cut too soon

 

Does she ask you

If you ever think of me

Eyes pleading you to

Say no, never

She can spare herself

The breath

You were never one

To look back over your shoulder

To see the mess you left behind

Much less to come back

To help pick it up

 

All we ever look for

Is a home

Where our heart beats soft

And lights glow like stars

Burning in our eyes

Calming the storms

In restless minds

Arms encircling fragile bodies

Hearts encircling

Broken hearts

 

I was never home for you

You were never at peace

With your arms round my waist

And fingers playing with

Errant locks of my hair

My fingers clasped in yours

Could not tie you down

To stay with me

Until the next apology

 

All I ever was, darling

Was a pit stop

On your faltering journey

Another variable in your universe

Clouded behind the smoke

Curling from your lips

And the mirrors of your lies

One foot always out the door

Key in the ignition

Ready to run again

 

But in her,

In her, my love

You found your destination

Your home

Your constant

In a world of variables

No smoke, no mirrors

Just the boy who vowed

Never to fall in love

Walking into its waiting arms.

 

-Gautami

Space

Maybe my heart is so heavy

Because it’s still so full

Of you

So do I tip you out

To make room for the ones to come

Or do I keep you there

To jostle with the rest

Elbows and ankles fighting

For the space

You so badly wanted

And got, like you always do

I would smile at the irony

In this battle

You will eventually lose

But it would make no difference

You didn’t care then

You don’t care now

Some things are destined, darling

Never to change

 

-Gautami.

Senses

I suppose there’s something

About our five senses

Holding onto memory

With something stronger

Than fickle minds

Nostalgia hidden bone deep

Coming to surface once more

Catching you unawares

Like the riptide snatching

At unsteady feet,

Pulling you away.

 

I say I’ve moved on

It is in the iron you wrought

In a delicate soul

It is in the relative steadiness

Of a once stuttering heart

In the way I don’t jump

To answer your calls anymore

In the way I can laugh, without

The weight that was crushing

My lungs, your love clogging

My very veins

It is in my perpetual fear

Of being the one left behind

 

But my senses are treacherous

Because they have weaved

Sight, sound, smell

Inextricably in memories of you

So much so that

You’re in the tunes

Of a man singing about

People falling in love

In mysterious ways

And the dance we never had

To the same song

You’re in the album art

In the posters splashed

Across your wall

 

You’re in the smell of strawberries

In the cream I’d put on

For you

You’re in the scald

Of coffee, drunk too fast

As you sat on my sofa

You’re in the wind tangling

In my hair, snatching

Bubbling laughter from my lips

And the warmth of a hug

Under the light of the cars

Whizzing by, and the stars

Dotting the night

You’re in our laughter

As your shirt hung off my skin,

Still warm under your touch

You’re in the sound

Of motorcycle engines revving

And the smell of hot butter

On cooking kebabs

 

Most days, you’re lost

In the shelf of my mind

Where I lock away things of the past

That made me bleed, once

That have faded to distant aches, now

But on some days

The wind blows back the smoke

Into my breath

And with it, you

And you come alive to me

Once more, reopening old scars

Just a bit

 

But nostalgia cannot reignite

Flames long stamped out

In repeated mistakes and warm tears

And the mist of the dawn

Fades away under the light

Of a burning sun

So, my love, do you disappear

The way you did so many times

Until all that lingers

Is the ghost of things long gone,

Once loved, long lost.

 

-Gautami.

Note to self

Do we ever truly stop loving someone?

Or do we just learn

Do we just teach ourselves

To forget and let go

Childish fingers unclasping

Around the string of a balloon

Letting it fly away

 

Because memories will fade

Like the henna disappearing

From the hands of a bride

Left at the altar, but

Your words will remain

Long after your promises

Crumble like pillars of sand

Under the weight of reality

 

You said

When your lips first touched mine

It felt a lot like home

Words, words, words

In a tidal wave

Of what looked a lot like love

 

But homes can be left behind

Along with baggage dumped

At airport terminals

At unsaid goodbyes

And on the virgin lips

Of your lover’s first kiss

Addictions can be broken

And jigsaws destroyed

People can be reduced

To ghosts that will dissipate

In your memory,

Never looking back

 

Loose ends can be snipped away

As if they never were

Until our story is reduced

To a page, nay

A few words

In your book

Echoes that will never

Ring again

 

I thought our hearts

Beat in tandem,

But the truth was, my love

Yours was always a beat ahead

Leaving me behind

From the very start

There’s only so far you can run

Before your feet give up

Absence does not make the heart

Grow fonder

It merely glosses over the bad

Making you long for the good

But the two are intertwined

The way our fingers used to be

 

So while you long

For things long past,

Forget not that mistakes

Tend to repeat themselves

And everything you ever cared for

Can cut you like the broken pieces

Of your grandmother’s crystal

And the slash of careless words

Burning permanent scars

Remember, wilted roses of yesterday

Do not carry tomorrow’s perfume

 

-Gautami.