lie down in a dream
rewinding itself unblinking if necessary
the thumb and forefinger
opening wide the lids
as only dilatory drugs can do
a poor substitute now
let the light free itself
from torn sprockets of a film
you never completed complete with songs
you never wrote
or put to music in tracks
only technology could separate
before merging them
in a semblance of the nightmare
that cruised for a one-night stand between
the ridges of the forefinger and the thumb deployed
to open wide the lids
as only dilatory drugs can do
a poor substitute for the fog
conversational even courteous speaking
in measured tones
making no demands or setting conditions
a mere prelude? to slam the door shut
[It is dark. Insidemyhead
Darkinside. The head.]
The shadows of my paralysis are still.
Unmoving. Standing still.
[Do they listen? Still?]
Hard to believe that they will
never danceagain. In joy. Or startle.
In fear. The
. . . all poems must reach an end . . .
All bodies, friend, must come at last to earth.
I wish that mine could stay away,
believe me, I long for another fate.
‘I read what you wrote . . . I don’t know . . . are things so bleak . . . so . . . unforgiving . . . deprived . . . bereft to the bone . . . what is it my dear friend that makes everything you say sound out of joint . . . so completely . . . devoid . . . I don’t know what to say . . .’
I did not know. What to say.
Either. So. Nothing. I listened. To her voice on the phone. In my head. Like a visitor in a house that has no lights. No windows. Either. To let in the day. Or.
To let out the dark.
Put the phone down. Pick up the knife.
. . . grating . . . bone against bone . . . rub the slit vein on your left wrist against the slit vein on your right wrist . . . penance or an offering to the gods . . . what must it feel like?
Will someone please light a scream?
Strangle the dark?
Every time I shut my eyes to sleep I wake up in a room full of wineglasses. Like an upside down house of cards. Hanging from ceiling to floor. Repeating itself in neat corridors. The glasses are empty. Whoever put them there forgot the wine. I am disappointed. This too is familiar. I know the sequence. My disappointment is merely a prelude for other things to follow. This dream has visited me before. I wait. Before too long there is the sound of an approaching tidal wave. Water rushing at breakneck speed through a sewer. The whiplash like thunder that follows creates an impression of impending doom. The empty glasses can no longer hold back the torrent of blood that erupts. Shattering. Glass after glass. Till the whole room is awash with shards of glass in a whirlpool of blood.
It is time for me to drown.
He cut the flesh of his right thumb with a blade and hastened to apply the blood on my forehead. His dry mouth trying to give voice to this symbolic marriage. Tears in his eyes. The face flushed. Ears red. He had walked straight out of a Bombay film and made me his wife.
We were to be married many times.
This was the first.
The second time was in a chapel.
The stained glass magic at the height of the noonsun falling across the altar. The priest, a pinkandyellowandgreenandpurple halo. Goa. On an impulse. Three days and nights of bliss that had found us in front of this young priest pronouncing our ‘I dos’. He said he had always wanted a church wedding.
When I woke up he had gone.
In a hospital room bathed in the twilight that precedes the darkness of a moonless night. The baby out of wedlock refusing to cry. Stillborn. Distant. Like the voice from the mist. ‘Don’t worry’, it said. ‘You will live’, it promised. ‘We will live. Somehow’, it beseeched. ‘Together’. ‘I want you to marry me’, it implored. I took the aborted child into my arms and fed it milk from my breast.
Naveen Kishore, publisher Seagull Books and photographer.