The Urgency Of My Tardiness

I sit outside a cafe and read Mary Oliver on a day when for no reason at all, my hope seems to have disappeared. In her words, I find what most find, and to call it a word like respite, would be incomplete despite being true. In the words of others, I find my own voice often, and to not pay homage or credit or even a note of thanks would be terribly unfair in a world where stealing and taking someone’s art for granted is normal, and if not normal, then tolerated. I have built it all—these words, this life, this disposition—on the shoulders of giants, of people who feel larger than the very life they have so much to talk about. But then, all this serious, morbid air lifts off from around me and leaves me on the ivory table and chair amidst the pollen-infused, enthused spring foliage of the garden around the patio. I sit and read the poems, one after the other, stopping only to take a sip of my coffee and sometimes, at the rude honking of the cars right outside, on the other side of the hedge that separates the hustle of the city and my moment of calm. I sit, and I read, and then I stop and check the time.

“Why are you always running?” They ask me, “Why are you always late or just on time? You should calm down and not be in this rush-filled frenzy, this urgency in your heart.”

I look at them and avoid telling them it is because I stop too much. I stop too much to think, to look around, to read a poem. My tardiness is a side-effect of my theft from all of you. All those little moments and minutes add up in the end. All the time I steal from others, I put into these very words that they sometimes (read: rarely) appreciate.

I look at them and want to tell them about this, but then, I keep it tucked under my tongue like a confession you do not make, and it remains there with all the things I do not say but think about day after day.

I wish I said some things out loud. I wish I did. I wish I could. But I have read my poems for now, and the sky is getting darker. There will be time to think about wishes and regrets.

For now, I must hurry and get back home. It seems I am late already.

I Listen To A Love Song At Four In The Afternoon

I listen to a love song at four in the afternoon as the clouds rage outside, ready to pour. It reminds me of no one, but it can still serve its purpose. It moves along like a train chugging about through landscapes of memory with no stops on its course. There is no muse in this room, this life, yet the song talks of love, yet I understand. I lose myself in the verse, the chorus, the music, and the remnants of a feeling. I let the song repeat, and the clouds in my periphery get dreamier by the minute as I lie down and let the song wash over me like the rain does on the world. So much of what I want to say is contingent on having someone to say it about. In my imagination, I have written a full anthology of poems for someone else, and none exist just yet. They say you should write what you know, and so I stop myself from putting words down until they are for somebody. So much of what I write depends on how my life has gone, and so much remains to be decided by how it will go.

It is five in the evening on a Tuesday in March, and I let myself melt into a sleep you do not get often. The one where you are still awake; you know a song plays in the room, echoing through the leaves of the plants that would not stop growing, that have far outgrown their pots; you know the clouds are dancing over the sky in a sort of waltz or a foxtrot. There is a sort of playfulness in the air around you, and you are asleep, yes, but you are also wide awake and aware of the moment at hand. I listen to a love song without anyone to dedicate it to, and I think of the poems I could write, of the moments I could live, of the laughter I could laugh, and then, the power goes out. The weather has gotten on, and the rain continues pouring. As the power comes back on, I think of starting the song again, but its moment has passed. That is the thing about abrupt endings. They tend to take everything along.

Of course, life gets on as the weather does; it does not change what you have left behind. You continue living and laughing, but not like you would have, no. Not like that at all.

There Are No Signs on the Yellow Brick Road

You get to a certain age, and you become disillusioned with life. The days often repeat more than you can keep track of, not that you are keeping track, not that you are interested in such a chore—there are enough of them to go around. The last thing you need is one more thing you have to do. Between taking the trash out day after day, all your dreams of finding the yellow brick road are gone. It has, at some point, melded into your life. Perhaps, any road we walk is the metaphorical yellow brick road. Perhaps, that’s it. It better be, or else we are all lost.

Time has marched on, and it is march yet again. In many ways, this year feels precisely like the previous one. Only it seems I’ve left the harder years further behind. One would think this would make me happier. But then, try walking a little too far away from your troubles, and you will forget why you began walking in the first place. The further I leave my problems, the further I go along this path and the more lost I feel. Why am I walking? It is such a simple question but one with tremendous impact. I have asked myself this suddenly, and it has stopped me in my tracks. Below my feet are pristine bricks laid meticulously. I do not know where they lead; I have forgotten where I started. I stand here by myself.

The road is yellow with hope and possibility, yet my shadow that falls on it is still the same. There are no signs around me. The landscape around me remains the same. Nothing has changed. I look around, and I lose my sense of direction. Now, I do not know whether I face where I came from or where I was heading in the first place. It looks all mixed up, but it is all bright and beautiful. The grass is the precise green as green should be, and the sky is the only blue I know. What do I do? Where do I go?

The road stretches ahead of me. The road stretches behind me. It is all yellow; it is all golden.

Out of fear of staying still, I continue walking.

We Wish We Wished For Something Else

If I were to put my greatest wish in a sentence, it would not be for money, and surely, not for love. If I were to find it in me to tell you what I want the most, I would tell you that I want to wake up in the morning and immediately, from the slice of light that falls on the wooden desk on the wooden floor, to know that I have gotten it. It is a different kind of light when it is raining outside, softer and, in its own way, warmer. That is what I want: to wake up and know immediately that it is raining, to lay in my bed as I hear the sound of the pattering overpowering everything else, and then, to go back to sleep knowing all too well my greatest wish has been fulfilled. I have been kissed good morning by the damp hours of the morning, and I have been lulled back into sleep and comfort.

Only two nights ago, at about five minutes past one in the morning or in the night, whichever way you prefer to put it, I wrote in my notes. If there is one thing I want in life, it is to wake up on a rainy day and go back to sleep. Like we often do for wishes, I watch the days closely, waiting for this to happen. You do not know the sheer scale of my disappointment. There are so many days when it fails to happen.

Now, my wish has been granted. A part of me is curious for what I should have asked in place of this day. There are, as there always are, a plethora of things to solve and a brimming plate of things to do. It is curious, isn’t it, how when our wishes are granted, we can almost immediately think of something more fitting, more urgent, more critical that could have been given to us instead? We often forget that to be given anything in this life results from a lengthy collision course of which we are but a part. Every gust of wind in this world has conspired and blown precisely to get this rain here today, at the right moment, and here I sit, ungrateful and smug.

That is the thing about wishes: when they are but wishes still, we would trade the world for them. But on the off-chance that they are granted?

We wish we wished for something else.

Notes To Myself, About Writing After A Short Hiatus

In no particular order: To write only when there is light outside. To not force words out of myself—and if I have to, to not do it at the behest of the ticking hands of a clock. To not let myself become a slave to my fastidiousness or my obsession to have all of it in the right place. This is no apartment; this is my life’s work. I must embrace the mess, to a degree, to till I can find it in myself to manage it. I must carry it with me, and not push it into an over-cluttered drawer. All neatness, after all, depends on how many drawers and boxes you can hide in plain sight. To write in a way that is not boxed in.

To not only break the mould, but shatter it completely week after week, or at least, try. On most weeks, the trying will suffice. To talk about more, to talk about different, and to talk about things worth talking about, even if the world has no care or time for them. To not fall into the trap of wanting to be a performer for a world that forces its tunes on us; to not become an advertisement, and if I have managed to resist it so far, to continue my defiance. To be able to say I did not sell my soul to get more eyes on my words in the end. To write for myself, and sometimes, for the world.

To write about love, even if I have forgotten about what it feels like, especially then. To write about it like we talk of the sweet memory of pumpkin spice in the middle of summer. To write about it without anticipation of it coming, with an assurance that like winter, it shall arrive in its own time, too. To write about it without the worry and terror of it leaving when it does arrive. And if it fails to arrive, to talk about the loneliness, the dejection but not paint a mural out of it. To not make a monument out of pain, and to not let myself wander too far into that maze. To write about it still, however. To try to do it without losing myself.

And if it is in me, to learn to correctly title a piece for a change.