#NaPoWriMo Days 3 and 4: Sunshine and Milky Ways

Hi, guys! Today’s a double poem day because yesterday became too hectic and I ended up missing out on the prompt: “Write something that involves a story or action that unfolds over an appreciable length of time. Focus on imagery, or sound, or emotional content (or all three).”

Poem #1:

dreams are expensive. luxuries. a privilege. it’s

a privilege to be able to dream and

say, through the mud, to the sky. I dreamt once.

when I was little my father would hold my

hand and we would toddle across the Milky Way. one

evening my parents fought; my grandmother behind

closed doors; my mother stormed off somewhere. she was always storming off; boot

tramp boot tramp march; she would be walled behind fortresses with grey threatening

clouds like a frown and i’d hate that; i’d cry; i’d want to take a finger and put it in her

puckered mouth and try to make her smile. it always did. but not, apparently, on that evening.

that evening i ran towards the door, finger out, shouting, “don’t fight! don’t fight!” My father said it broke his heart. and then the door slammed.

i don’t think she meant to do it- she’s always hurting me without meaning to.

i cried out loud and my father came running, and my grandmother cried, “they’ve killed the child! / oh, she’s killed the child!”

and I sobbed and held up a finger. my father took me up in his arms. “We’re going for a walk,” he said. and then he took me on a spin

out through the ancient doors across the old tarred walk past the healing-house to where the horse stands erect, tail held high. he said i

stopped crying when i was with him. and we toddled across the Milky Way.

he always held my hand. in tornadoes and firestorms and floods.

when i would go seeking, seeking, seeking for him. i dig for that memory:

his finger in mine, snug as a gun. and maybe i’ve found it, but i’m not sure how much i’ve made up because i want it to be true:

and how much is him, hand in my hand, spread out across the stars, still leading me.

I don’t dream much anymore. dreams are now fearful cities to walk through, trapped with monsters with maws agape.

dreams are now my mother’s voice, hurting, hurting me without meaning; and all i have left now are some semi colons, commas, no periods scattered through a song:

the walk past the hospital, the spin across the stars, millions of miles away, millions of minutes past.

The second poem comes, not from today’s #NaPoWriMo prompt but from Harnidh Kaur. the poet and Spiktinot old-timer. Here’s her list of prompts. The poem is on #4, “Imagine if you could bottle sunshine”:

Harnidh Prompt

if I could bottle sunshine

& take a sip, it would taste

like the sunbeams that slid

off the grey cracked floor

in my childhood home.

i imagine they’d taste metallic,

warm with a touch of young Calcutta winter;

scratchy like warm wool cloth, red in the sun. i’d lick up the flowers

dripping off the tree opposite my school blocking the blue bronze sky:

predictably red and warm. i can feel the cold grip my naked skin just above my white stockings:

daring frozen fingers groping under the edge of the red frock dangling close by;

my mother’s hand in my hand. summers swell more; i think i

would smell dusty comforter-wrapped air that would swirling in the ray that smashed in

through the ventilator glass: the grey fan spinning, the gauze dupatta at my feet: yellow,

i think. i think if i looked closer i’d stumble upon the remote that vanished that odd spring noon of a childhood Sunday and

breathe in the mangsho meal on skip-happy toes. if I could,

I would walk through the ghosts of that past.

it’s an ocean, this endless happiness that slides away when I think of its enormity, its pureness, its innocence,

and I drown: a molten Atlantis floating in the sun.

little girl, savour it: this safety, this love, this feeling of home the floor home the balcony home the apartment home the neighbourhood home the city home your mother’s hand home the tongue resting gently in your mouth;

home the nested word whose depths have been lost in a scarfed mother that swallows swallows swallows:

savour it, because when you are old and all the red has bled and all that is left is a skeleton film: this here

– this air, this light, this warmth, this dust, this beloved familiarity of exactly where you belong –

will be your sunshine one day.

Day 4
On Seher’s terrace in Bangalore: another home. September 2018.

Thank you for reading this double whammy!

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