t w e n t y

by Shruti   Nov 4, 2020


septemper held the corner of my cotton dress and
whispered to me that she had prepared my nineteenth grave.
she promised me ripe tangerines and sweeter sorrows,
she said she was taking my writhing days away.

and that night I dreamt that god lived in
the white petals of my jasmines, so I walked there
barefoot and pretended I could talk with him.

there were spaces in my nineteen, I began,
and I did not know how to fill them.

(with every new flower that touched my open palms,
I told him of the woes that left my days grey)

one.
on the broken legs of old chairs lived my only companions –
not humans, never humans, just ghosts, only ghosts.
empty and hollow, their bodies always mirrored mine.

two.
tangerines rotted every time I held them;
when did my skin grow poisonous?
or was it a dream that I never escaped from?

three.
there was a time when I thought
home was my graveyard, so I ran;
rain cloaked the town and running away felt
easier than swallowing a grain of rice inside the
empty walls of a graveyard.
.
.
.
(I string together seven jasmines and name them Yesterday)
.
.
.
nine.
nineteen said she would not return.
I watch my violets and pumpkin blossoms
nimbly curl in, like the edges of my old journal pages.
even my garden tells me she never left.

ten.
today I see the hollow ghosts again.
early autumn mornings still bring me rotten fruits.
nothing I do can make them unlove me, they say.

eleven.
evenings make me feel like an immortal being who
lost a hundred lovers.
evenings take up all the air in the room and make a
void of my being.
evenings still fill me with an ever-growing fear of
never seeing you again.
.
.
.
(I string together five jasmines and call them Today)

there are spaces in my t w e n t y,
a dozen more than before
my needle cannot sew them together.
there are spaces in my t w e n t y,
ones bigger than before
my jasmines cannot outgrow them.

and I thought I knew how god would console me
but I could only come up with a silence more silent
than the place I once called home.

there are
spaces
in my
t w e n t y
and
I do not know how to fill them, again.

-

©sharodi h
29th October, 2020

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  • 3 weeks ago

    by Mr. Darcy

    This is art of the highest degree. Your words transport me on the Jasmins of your dreams.

    This is going into my favourites, to be cherished like a special holiday pebble.

    Take care

    • 2 weeks ago

      by Shruti

      Very glad you liked it. Much appreciated, thank you a lot! ^-^

  • 3 weeks ago

    by Poet on the Piano

    The metaphors in this, and symbolism, is so intriguing! I keep re-reading and finding new meaning. A year older, and promises of less bitterness and more sweetness that will last... for some of us, it's trying to piece together parts of ourselves, or wanting the past years to be filled, and something we can look back on and understand. The theme of hollowness here, ghosts, and the way we can feel empty inside, like it's our eternity. The question of if we are the ghosts, since they are our only companions. There's also mention in this poem of your fear of never seeing someone again, which at first, I perceived as a person, who lives in reality, and the ghosts who remind you of the void make you feel like you will never be living and thriving with that person again. But then I also perceived it as one of the ghosts who visit you. Whose memory you don't want to ever forget.

    So many parts I want to comment on here, but I'll still to the most poignant lines in my opinion:

    "tangerines rotted every time I held them;
    when did my skin grow poisonous?
    or was it a dream that I never escaped from?"

    - Your visuals in this are stunning, absolutely stunning. I liked that you mentioned the tangerine again, and the way it feels intimate, or like a favorite fruit, or something that brings you joy. Now, seeing them rot at your touch, brings a sense of terror and questions as to if it's you, or simply leftover from a dream. This wondering, this question of reality, and also who we become over the years. What power and poison we can hold, even if we don't realize it fully.

    "there was a time when I thought
    home was my graveyard, so I ran;
    rain cloaked the town and running away felt
    easier than swallowing a grain of rice inside the
    empty walls of a graveyard."

    - The comparison of home being a graveyard here took my breath away, because they seem like two opposite things. There's a sense of dread, like never being able to escape the memories and ghosts, so you feel the urge to run. But to where?

    "early autumn mornings still bring me rotten fruits.
    nothing I do can make them unlove me, they say."

    - Again, the mention of rotten fruits is powerful here! What's also interesting is the "unlove me" part. Like the wholeness of a perfectly ripe piece of fruit is just an inconceivable thing now.

    "and I thought I knew how god would console me
    but I could only come up with a silence more silent
    than the place I once called home."

    - You tied everything together brilliantly here. From the beginning, when you pretend you can talk to god through the jasmines, asking for the spaces to be filled. And the despair in realizing he might not know how to do this, so there is just silence, a silence stronger than one you've ever known before.

    I will keep coming back to this piece. There's still something so personal in this, and I was moved by the themes of wanting to fill the empty spaces, and the holes, in your life. I think it's an incredibly thought-provoking take on aging too, and how the pieces of us from the past may fade, and we wonder who we are becoming.

    Love your work so much!

    • 2 weeks ago

      by Shruti

      I hope it is not too much if I say that your detailed comment almost made me cry out of happiness. Thank you so much for taking the time to read, your analysis is spot on!

  • 3 weeks ago

    by Mimi

    I usually don't like poems with no apparent form, but this one was breathtaking. There's nothing else to say. Great work.

    • 3 weeks ago

      by Shruti

      Thank you so much!

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