Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Days like today

Will you remember today? The way you stirred the cream in your coffee and it made swirls inside the mug like a slow motion whirlwind? Or the way the sun’s rays streamed through dry brown leaves and made it glisten against the light? Will you remember the way your grandfather hugged you as you left for school? Or how the books in the library smelt on that June afternoon? Will you remember today?

Will you remember the salty blue water from your first holiday? Or the way your hair swept your face as you cycled the hilly streets of Tura?  Will you remember how you warmed your hands as a hawker fried groundnuts under a thick red flame? Or the way you watched clouds float across pale blue skies? Will you remember today?

Fleeting images. Like the red letter box that you crossed as you pedalled out towards the main road. Or seeing a familiar face in a sea of people at a Christmas carnival. Will you remember how your mother called out your name stressing each syllable like it means something? Or how it felt to open that brown envelope with a letter from a childhood friend? Will you remember today?

Will you remember how he smelt of wet grass and soil from the recent flowers he’d planted? Or the summer afternoon he kissed you in the dusty history aisle? Will you remember how you both swirled on that ferry’s wheel screaming until you were hoarse? Or how his voice sounded on the other end of the phone voice after your first big fight? Will you remember today?

Will you remember how the bird outside your window cooed as you buried your head under that thick old quilt? Or how you shrieked when you felt a frog inside your unused gumboots? Will you remember how you cried yourself to sleep when the boy you liked so much didn’t like you back? Or the way the church bells broke the silence between your father and you?

Will you remember how you picked up pine cones from that slope of shaded trees beside the green algae pond? Or how the snippy air pinched your cheeks pink? Will you remember the way rain pattered on your tin roof and drowned out your parents’ fight? Or how fireflies lit up the forest outside your bedroom? 

Will you remember today?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Letters from Ziro

“Meet me when evening touches nightfall
where hummingbirds fly over smoke 
swallowed chimneys, grey and tall.”

“Fly over these green hills (will you please?) 
with flowers growing by the street 
and misty forests of Oak and Teak.” 

When I don’t hear from you for a week, 
a dozen mundane things I’ll seek, 
so days without you won’t seem so bleak. 

Your postcard written in blue ink,
is a view of a shrinking sky, 
light fading as the day goes by.

I imagine windy fields of rye,
and you standing at our old porch
with a stubble and your crooked grey tie.

I watch rain pour from clouds of grey.
You write a postcard from a city far away,
where Sugar Ray fills the room of a sidewalk café.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Summertime love

Ahead of you, her words sway
to the sound of the wind.
Murmurs and whispers,
they carry the smell of wet
grass by the pavement.

Her laughter dances around
and fills the limpid air
where lovers once blew
their first playful kisses.

Smoke from her cigarette
makes hooplas round and bold.
They float across the midday sky
before the summer air
swallows them whole.

You watch her from afar
with her wavy, auburn hair
while she blows into her coffee,
staring at the distant pier.

You wonder if you should
walk up to her, talk about
books and the weather,
but instead, you sit by
and sip on your chamomile.

Rain patters on the café roof
and fogs your glass window.
You read a wistful ballad
while a man walks in through
the wooden café door.

You pretend not to see
as she melts into the arms
of her lover, the rain from his hair
coloring her cheeks crimson,
like a midsummer afternoon.

*First published in Aaduna's 2016 Spring Issue.

Night Skies

Like a yellow eyed snake
East Express slithers through
the burnt grass of Jonai.
It flashes through sleepy towns
that wait for clouds of grey
to sprinkle fields with rain.

At deserted check points, it wakes
hushed nights to the sound
of passengers’ banter while
I drown myself in my novel’s
next chapter.

The lines in my book dance
to the music of the dark.
I think of the summer nights
we spent beyond the wild grass
reading Keats and Neruda
under orchard trees we called home.

I know it is a long night
ahead until I see you
but the stars will
keep me company
till black skies turn blue.

The stretches of forests
that border the railway line
lie awake with the constant
chirping of crickets.

Sleep wanders away from me-
I watch shadows of trees
resemble faces, objects
and sometimes of witches
that mask well against
the black of the night.

I know it is a long night
ahead until I see you
but the stars will
keep me company
till black skies turn blue. 

*First published in Aaduna's 2016 Spring Issue.

Lila Ronghang

The old fishermen’s colony
was where Lila listened to waves
roll into her dreams and wake
her up to bright morning skies.

It was from mist covered windows
that she watched men walk
into the mouth of the sea,
throwing in their nets
just as the sun came up.

Salty winds murmured to her
of places she’d never seen.
Glimpses of towns she captured
typing on her Olivetti machine,
the clickety-click sound of it
startling the smoke-filled room.

The backyard of her house was a hideout.
Against moss covered tree trunks,
Shelley and Byron she read
and when her eyes tired out,
ladybugs and tiger lilies she’d pick,
placing them in neatly
folded handkerchiefs.

It seems just like yesterday
when Lila walked through bazaars
just as dusk peeked in.
Markets where beach shacks
glittered against the dark, and candle flames
swayed to the song of the waves.

No one has seen Lila in the past ten years.
Mitali says she now lives in a place
where the soil of the earth
fills her breath, and earthworms
crawl beside her as the night sets in.

*First published in Aaduna in their 2016 Spring Issue.