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By Hena Sarkar
*Editor's Note: Previously Published in Random Poem Tree
Decades ago, someday, I must have
sucked manna from her breasts
decades later, I’d learn to unlove the divine
I must have suppressed my impatience with her ragged lullabies
composed of a thousand lies, and love--
indomitable, unfaltering, and so dangerously consuming
that reality, as enormous as life,
threatened to become a lifeless dream. But I do not remember any of that.
But I do remember. I remember her in the flowery, homely scent that
wafted across the hall in her imperfect pancakes—or perfect, I couldn’t tell--
in the silent sing-song of her footsteps, and
the familiar jangle of gold, coral, conch-shell which was a signal
that she was near, I wanted to bury my head in her sari
but I dared not rise from my chocolate river
and candy forest, until she
enveloped the whole of me in her morning kisses
which always tickled me into consciousness,
away from the delicious magic,
but I laughed. I always laughed.
Then I clambered to the age where the magical was real and
the sound of her feet was a formerly beloved melody,
an eavesdropping, deplorable parasite, while
those morning kisses reminded me of the kisses that I deserved
and craved, but didn’t own, and I pushed her further, further away until she,
she turned into the last chapter of the classic that
had been wordlessly gathering dust at the back of my buried bookshelf.
She was the shameless intruder in an abysmal existence
—of intoxication, surrender, annihilation
and desire—was there (or was there not) a time when
the only abyss I knew was the ebony cascade
that brushed my face every time she
bent down to kiss me—the only abyss
that I wanted to fall into again
So many strange faces, so many rusting armours--
they came and went. Dreams in reality, reality in dreams, they came
and went, and stayed. What also remained was I. And her.
She never asked for an apology, I never offered her any.
So much to forgive, so much to forget, yet the elixir lay
in the hidden dust beneath her fingernails--
an enigma, redolent of pancakes, among the tiny planets
in a moonless sky, it was her turn to evade, mine to chase.
Today, decades, decades later, I’m still chasing,
and evading. Today, I bend down
to kiss her wrinkled, papery forehead - she giggles, and says--
‘You have hair just like your grandmother’s. It was an abyss that I--
oh, but you wouldn’t know.’
You’re wrong, I want to say, I do know. But she hums
a familiar tune from another life,
which she remembers.
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