Searching for Signs of my Mother.

Night.

Why does the sky never get dark around here?

I mean, dude, they call it midnight black for a reason.
But around here, nine o’clock is ash gray and midnight is battleship gray,
But I’m looking for those bullets in white. They told me
you are a star now
and that when I look up at the sky, I can find one with your name on it.
But I can’t seem to find a single star around here.

Is knowing how to swim a criteria for star-gazing?
Because whenever I try,  I seem to be drowning.

There’s so much noise in this city’s air that I can barely sleep at night.
There’s a railway station between my ears, with its own tumultuous crowds
starting their wait uninvited in the abyss of my head.
Syncopated tracks and chiming bells and vibrations that tug on these strings
that attach me to you still. My own thoughts are orphaned.
And when I finally fall into a smokey sleep, I see your face
but not in a star. In a story I know is made-up but has me
waking up in sweat and pants and muffled screams.
Do you remember the monsoon green? Back home,
in a place called Kerala, it’s that blinding shade each leaf turns as the
monsoon rains spread their gloss. In my dreams, your face peeks
through them. But most of the time, I am running away.

Are you sure that they cut my umbilical cord?
Because some nights, I swear I can feel it pull me back.

I used to think that when people die, they go to a snow-white heaven.
And then, I started to question god;
And when god disappeared from my childish heart, my heaven vanished.
And when heaven and Cinderella filled the same file cabinet, I thought of hell
and that page quit in a millisecond, even before my cell phone carrier could charge
me for the data service.
But the problem with these words I picked up from gospel songs is that they leave
huge empty holes where stars should have been.
And through them I see nothing and
Nothing tastes as bitter as those herbal medicines you’d make me swallow.

Do you think angels believe in god?
Because I don’t think creatures so beautiful can ever be wrong.

But I also thought it would be raining on the day you die,
not the poetic romantic tropical rain, not with the rich smell
of spring’s first showers, but the rain that Hemingway spoke of,
with a moldy fragrance of death and darkness,
I expected lightning and screaming and so much thunder that
I would barely be able to open my eyes for the fear of being struck.
I thought my brain would cease to function and let my body down- I’d curl up on the
kitchen floor and forget how to crawl. I thought the world would stop its ballet
and the sun be too afraid to rise from flames. And people would sit down but forget to talk and
boundaries would disappear in less than a beat. But the
sun is in love too deeply with the world to forsake it for even a
single day and the world is carrying too much sand to care about the loss of a single grain.

Isn’t it funny that people think I’m strong?
Because I am pretty sure I can barely lift the edge of your orange-green sari.

I want to wear a midnight black burqa,
And just so that instead of seeing my face, they can see my heart-
I’ll cut a hole near my chest, as big as my fist.
And when I cry, in private so not to offend or degrade, I’ll let my tears dissolve
into the air to be carried by the strongest of winds to all these people
so that they’ll breathe me into them, and I’ll become a part of them.
And maybe if I can look up with them, I can point to the brightest star I barely see,
and blindly call it
– you.

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3 thoughts on “Searching for Signs of my Mother.

  1. Your poetry is always so intense. Really started enjoying the poem once you get to the stanza with references to rain. The poem really opens up then. It’s brutal, yet very beautiful. Definitely wouldn’t mind reading old stuff if they are as lovely as this. 🙂

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