Expiry date

Everything has a best before

The milk in your fridge

The medicines in your cabinet

And love

Love always has an expiry date

 

When I saw you

I wanted to believe

Forever

Every instinct but one singing

Nothing lasts

 

But your warmth sank

Into ready skin

Wide smiles, crinkly eyes

Somehow the poetry

Wouldn’t come

 

Everything curdles

The purest milk will one day

Go sour

The light in your eyes

Will one day fade

 

Now, as panic claws at my throat

The grip of desperation

My words wither and weep

Happiness

Expires too, my love

 

But you promised

Not us

And I believed

We’ll pull through

Man proposes, fate disposes

 

I never believed in forever

Until I met you

Children understand dysfunction

Before they know the word

Permanence is an illusion, I learnt

 

Now that I know you, my love

I want to believe

When I look at you

My heart wishes

We didn’t have an expiry date

 

-Gautami.

A little something for World Poetry Day

 

 

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Suitcases, postcards

So I pack my love

With its uneven edges

And messy stains

Struggling to string it

Into melodic syllables

Words and letters shouldering

The weight of emotion

On staggering feet

 

Pain can be weaved

And printed

Seeping between the lines

Your betrayal, my heartbreak

Immortalised in verse

Emotion splashed across

Bloodstained pages

Everything is pretty

Everything is beautiful

 

I write my love

Squeezing it into

Four words, plain

On a colourful postcard

Even the bluest sea

And the golden beach

Was grey without you

Loneliness gasping, four syllables

Wish you were here.

 

I take these feelings

Curl them up in

Fingers and tongues

One day the words

Will be enough

One day the words

Will make you stay

One day

I’ll give up on you

 

So I pack my love

Suitcases of regret piling

On dusty shelves

Moving on, shuffling feet

The past still breathes

In the memories you stifle

Hidden closets in your brain

Will break their dam

Someday

But no postcard from you shall

Find its way to me

 

-Gautami.

What is love

Ask me

Where I learnt about love

And I think of

Childish crushes

Sweaty hands clasping

Shy fingers

 

I think of chits slipped

Into covers of textbooks

Passed hastily under desks

And names doodled in

Hearts of ink

Only to be blotted away

 

I think of young lovers

Rushing in headfirst

Into what they think

Is love

I think of people walking away

With the setting sun

 

Only to come back

Rainy clouds blotting out

Your peace and sanity

Sky clearing to make way

For the next storm

To leave its wreckage

 

But this is not

Love

When I think of love

I think of familiar fingers

Braiding my hair

Working the knots out

 

I think of weary hands

Rubbing the pain away

Melting the weight on my heart

I think of hot coffee

And the smell

Of rasam cooking

 

I think of

A childish heart now growing

To finally understand

Your struggles

And asking

Why you never walked away

 

Why did you stay even when

Everything hurt

You look at me

Something in your eyes settling

Deep in my heart, an anchor

And touch my head

Soft as the kiss of rain

And then I understand

What love truly is.

 

-Gautami.

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

 

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