Memory of the future
Four pictures, now five of them
This reckoning will never be still.
Who is left here to catch the laughter,
Flowing in these pictures
From a summer twenty years ago.
Her eyes like filtered honey
Bind still some old affection.
How often we chance upon a hazy picture,
On days lost to vacancy,
Pictures which they didn’t ask to be clicked.
That's the thing.
Because for everyone you meet,
there is a potential last moment each day,
everything ripples outwards from that,
and a good picture captures that fuzziness.
Hinting at those finishes
even though at that time you
couldn’t quite see them,
the blurry bits in the picture,
like even while sitting there
you were looking through this watery haze,
while the minutes were perishing
right before your eyes, and
becoming a bit more ghost.
I reached the resort last evening
Braided with wild grass and flowers,
Notes of music drift through the hills and
Here I sit with my thoughts
And some residual coffee.
I hold its small, hot hand
I don’t say, shh! I don’t say, it’s okay.
I will wait until I'm done having feelings.
The grinder croons heavy on my ears,
Crushing coffee beans and pushing
Aside some heavy sighs.
The girl behind the counter
Is making some design with the coffee froth
That I cannot fathom.
A friend had told me, last night
on the phone, those with too many thoughts
travel the world more clearly,
have a more accurate view
of this bizarre world.
But days like today, I concede, I’m lost.
I spend more time adrift in my mind
than cars stuck in traffic in this
alchemical winter rain.
So, I’m writing this down on a napkin,
this little rambling by the cafe.
We creak through doors
Splash water on our faces.
Drink espresso as quietly as we can
watching car after car on the road.
We’re all looking for someplace to go.
This morning it woke in the darkrooms
Between past and the waterway,
This morning it beats differently
shifts shape of its own accord
from bird to the budded branch.
It rolls over in the chest,
Like sounds of intense gurgles in hotel rooms,
a sagged old man groggy with winter,
And later skips like a child at the shops
Staring at those glowing sites of desire.
Sometimes stopping suddenly in the shade,
When things and people get inside too deep
Else an empty room where the ghosts
of the dead wait, tuning through moments.
Sometimes it gets bored too,
Sometimes elated too easily,
Delighting in the sight of cyan orchids,
From the room window
Or the smell of burned toast
It has a few terminals too,
They call them chambers,
Infinite hallways of longing
The arrivals and departures go on and on,
Inside the conveyer belt never halts
Sending out perpetual luggage,
Filled with dreams and a thousand lies.
Then someday when someone leaves
the heart closes its doors,
And locks all its gates too
becomes smoke, a wispy lie,
curls like a worm and forgets its life,
makes a few wrong turns.
Heart sits with its hands folded in its lap
For hours in gardens and streets
Witnessing blue parting in the silk of sky,
It does what it wants, takes what it needs,
Alive till the flights come and go.
Shelly Narang has been teaching English literature in a college affiliated to Panjab University, Chandigarh. She has been teaching British Poetry and Postcolonial Literature to postgraduate students for a decade now. A Gold Medallist from the Department of English and Cultural Studies, Panjab University Chandigarh, she was awarded the FLTA Fulbright Scholarship at the University of Texas, Austin in 2008. She has contributed to poetry journals like Atrium, The Poet Magazine, The Red Wolf Journal, Sahitya, Muse, Thrush, The Yale Review etc. Her areas of interest include Gender Studies, South Asian Literature and Linguistics. She has published 2 academic books titled Visible Fears, Invisible Lives in 2017 and The Eternal Homelessness in 2018. She was shortlisted for the IUC-UGC Associateship at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, India in 2020
(*Poems by Shelly Narang)