the first step to recovery
Admit that certain people take up room in your heart, little doors set ajar. Admit the curiosity of their inhabitance, nestling in corners of your mind. Admit desire. And an absence of which you are far too aware. Admit the need to rise, to witness the rays bursting through the curtains and the sound of a boiling blue kettle. Admit nostalgia, which is the only legacy that endures. Admit denomination, unspoken differences silenced.
Admit hindsight, but not for its lessons learnt or displaced recollection. Admit doubt. Admit despair. Admit beauty, how it casually and often passes you by. Try, because you won’t regret failing. Embrace, to open your wounds to another. Reject fragility because you have crumbled for reasons. Admit surrender, how easy it is to be happy. Then leap, believing you first need to nourish your soul.
My Name is Vaishnavi
Fishnavi. Vashinari. Vishvani.
My name, as if it were a wet bar soap,
fumbles on first encounters.
I stopped correcting them.
The coterie made me believe
that accommodating everyone is
the easiest way to assimilation.
"Oh, do you have another name?"
”Yes, it’s a mouthful. V, will do.”
”V for Vietnam?”
I, casually, negate myself from
the primitive part of me -
my name, my Indian ancestry.
"Could I have a name to go with the coffee order?"
"Whom shall I say is calling?"
"Hi! Please introduce yourself to the team!"
Just V. Barely V. Almost there V.
Chronic censorship to accommodate you.
"My name is Vaishnavi."
Vai - ish - ner - vee
Don’t be afraid to roll your tongue.
Take your time with it.
I am patient.
Now, say my name.
The Waiting Room
Perhaps every day is a tiny prayer to prolong time
I stared at my grandmother’s weathered skin in the ICU
That reeked of hand sanitizer, QV cream and Tiger balm
And I levelled my breath and grasped her frail hand
Knowing the needles and ventilator had taken its toll
Each breath took her a little further from me
At the waiting room, pain-stricken faces mirrored my own
Defeated bodies slumped in chairs,
heads lowered between hands
Flickering lights from the vending machines
and TV on mute
The nurse comes around and calls me in
Three pairs of anxious eyes
Telling me that love is watching someone die
If she should love him,
to find secrets in her tangled hair.
java chip frappuccino,
on her door step, clasped hands
on a bench along Rundle Mall.
$9.99 salvos sweater on the coldest
winter day, an hour conversation
under a streetlamp after Spanish class,
dirty playgrounds at midnight.
believe in magic,
So she said yes,
wore his watch and
soon he left.
She unravelled her hair
and went to see the barber.
Even in the Corners
Even in the corners
the brightest star doesn’t ignite,
the forgotten memories
are fevered. Even in the corners
a cloud of finely covered earth
chokes and disquiets your cry.
Even in the corners
a thousand words are
spoken despite reticence.
A gentle aubade roars
even in the corners.
Gently the fan spins--
it is a power cut
in 37 Chai Chee
and the wind has become
nothing but a stale trace of
vibhuti and agarbatti.*
In the shadows,
we held brass bells
to find each other
as we drifted
through the house.
Should I live blind
in a landscape of
cimmerian shade, may
the lights never return.
Here in the void
you have left behind,
I still wait for the chimes
from your temple
to find my way home.
*Incense used in Hindu prayers