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A lover’s goodbye and other poems by Grace Aonok

Grace Aonok

Summer Song

Summer arrives

As promised;

The hills are

Swaddled in mist,

Moist in rain

The sun plays hide and seek

Behind clouds that whisper

Messages of hope

Deftly conveyed

Through silver linings

I greet summer

With an alchemy of emotions;

I met my love on a stormy summer’s day,

He left two summers ago -

Everything in between,

Remain in memory,


Dangerously slipping out of grasp, at times-

I look towards the pregnant skies

For a sign;

When will light enter

Through this gaping wound?


You are gone,

My center has come unhinged

I go spiralling

In circles, round and round;

When the momentum breaks

I shall be gone too!


The way we said goodbye

Weighs on my mind often

Sad as it was,

A lover’s goodbye

Could only be as sweet.

I can still hear you,

Calling out my name

All night long,

A staccato rhythm breaking

The silence of a sleeping world

All I could do in response

Was to hold your hand,

Holding on- holding back,

For as long as I could.

I could tell

Your eyes and ears

Were long gone,

They could no longer see nor hear

But you, my love,

Held on,

Unwilling to leave.

Your hand and heart,

Holding on to mine

I could feel the immensity

Of your unsaid words

In your whispered murmurs,

Your lips forming my name,

As the last tremble of life

Left your tired, beaten body.

If you could, you would have stayed

If I could, I would have held you back

But even the heavens run out of mercy sometimes

And, lovers too, must surrender

To the cruel call of time

Goodbyes are inexorable

Ours was meant

To be this way

Sad as it was,

A lover’s goodbye

Could only be as sweet.

A Question


When you are least expecting it,

When he seems engrossed with his tiny cars,

Lined up in an imaginary traffic snarl,

My son turns to me and asks,

“Why did Abao die?”

His eyes in bewilderment,

An existential question

Hanging on his tiny shoulders

Barely four summers old

The question comes

As though this thought

Had been weighing on his mind

For endless nights,

As though this tiny question

Had all along been hidden,

In a corner of his mind,

Even while he ran around

Squealing in wild abandon.

This question

That you’re struggling with, son

Vexes me as much

Why? Why?

It hides behind an upturned mouth

A shoulder struggling to keep straight,

It hides behind empty pools

That pretend to be eyes,

We- my son and I,

Must answer this

As good Christians often do

With “Tis’ Thy will, my Father”

And pretend that

We are okay with this answer.

(*Abao: “Father” in the Changki dialect of Nagaland, India)


Grace Aonok, a native of Nagaland, now resides in Shillong, Meghalaya, where she teaches English Literature. She can be reached at or on Instagram at graceaonok.

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