An Awkward Collection Of Poems About Death #3

 

The thing about loss
Is that it didn’t hit me
When it happened.
I didn’t feel loss.
Not when I got the call.
Not when I attended our last party together
Everyone wearing black.
Her favourite colour.
Not when there were two bodies
and only one person
that last time I saw her.
Pale.
No, I didn’t feel loss.
I felt everyone else’s loss
And made it my own.
A vacancy inside me
Filled with pain
not of my own doing.
And that made it worse.

It was three days later
I was checking my phone
And I didn’t see her name
Pop up at the crank of dawn.
She wasn’t on my recents
Only recently passed.
The vacancy started to fill up
With the deafening sound of absence.

A week later I was at a book store
I found a book with chapters named
Only in odd numbers.
She was an odd little one.
She would have liked it.
I almost bought the book for her.

Thirty one days later
That movie she wanted to see
Came out.
I went alone.

It’s just one never-ending monotone.
Sometimes you forget she’s gone.
She’s still there, you know.
Writing, eating, breathing.
Am I lying to myself or is time lying to me?
And my ears pick up the monotone again.
A frustration.
Of so much to say
But when you turn the recorder on
You realise you have nothing to record.
Succumb to the monotone.

A year and a half later
I shift to a new city
Unloading the pieces of my life.
I find a stone.
Our hike up the mountain.
When she told me
She’d move mountains for me.
And suddenly I feel selfish.
Because I had not thought of her
For a year.

The vacancy never really gets filled.
The pain just numbs until
You trick yourself into believing
You are as you were.
Whole.
Without loss.
With nothing to find.

I don’t think I’ll ever stop looking.

Coffee and Cigarettes

“My mother will start to worry
– Beautiful, what’s your hurry?
Father will be pacing the floor
– Listen to the fireplace roar
So really I’d better scurry
– Beautiful, please don’t hurry
Maybe just a half a drink more
– Put some records on while I pour….”

The faint sound of Christmas carols fill the air with a cheerful buzz, accompanied by a whiff of cinnamon. She absent-mindedly looks for her coat and keys, and puts it on. She takes out her phone and sends a quick text.

“A few more minutes. Need coffee.”

She puts on the only pair of rain boots she can see, and grabs her umbrella as she tumbles out of her apartment. She should have worn her own rain boots, because his are too big for her.

It’s Christmas Eve and everyone is out doing a bit of last minute shopping. She wonders if she has anyone else to shop for. She bought only one gift. Should she have bought a gift for anybody else? How long has it been since she bought a gift for her parents? She cannot even remember the last time she talked to them for more than a few minutes. But she does remember the last time her father bought her a gift. It was a bar of chocolate that was as silky smooth as her hair when her mother would brush it on cold winter mornings. They were quite well off, and she could and would have anything she wanted. Yet, a simple gesture of love was the one gift she remembered the most fondly. The chocolate had tiny caramel chunks that tasted like buttery sin heaven. The day her father gave it to her, she almost cried. They had just fought. Again. The small offering of peace restored her faith in family. She broke off a sizeable piece and offered the rest to her parents. She felt happy and content. It was one of the last and only happy memories she had with her family.

Her house always had the lingering scent of coffee, especially when her father was home. As things started to turn sour, that omnipresent scent became oppressive. Screaming, fighting and shattered objects became a frequent occurrence. She sometimes wondered if her neighbours had gotten used to the war-torn family that lived next door.

When she was sixteen, she declared that they weren’t a family any more, merely three people living in the same house. When she turned eighteen, she packed her bags and left, vowing never to set foot in her family house again.

Her anger intensified over the years, but also drove her passion to succeed in her life. For one of the last things her father told her was that she would never be successful at anything, certainly if she took up art as her choice of profession. Today, she co-owns her own graphic design house.

She tried to emotionally and psychologically distance herself from her parents as well. Her biggest fear was that she would turn out exactly like her mother, or act like her father. She didn’t want to become the people she couldn’t stand. However, despite her best efforts, she retained her mother’s penchant for baking and her father’s love for coffee.

Oh, how she loved coffee. It would not only wake her up, it would also remind her to be alert, a quality she always associated with her father. Only when her father was in the house would the strong, almost suffocating emanation of coffee pervade through the air.

She trudges along in the muddy snow, steaming coffee in hand. Reaching her destination, she winds up the familiar set of staircases leading to his apartment. The door is ajar. He’s expecting her. It’s so warm inside that she takes off all her clothes, one by one, until she is wearing only the thin dress she layered under all the coats. Sipping her coffee, she sits down on his lap.

He is facing the window on a settee with a cigarette in hand. The fumes of the cigarette and the steam of the coffee mingle, finding the same way out of the apartment though a tiny opening in the window.

“Did your mum call today?” She asks.

Taking a puff, he says, “Yes she did.”

“Did you answer?”

“No but she left a recording. The usual. ‘Merry Christmas and today is the anniversary of your father’s passing. I hope you pray for him.’ She knows that I don’t pray. I don’t know why she insists I do it every year.”

Taking another sip of her coffee she mumbles, “She’s your mother. She cares about you.”

Another puff, and he replies, “I could say the same about your family.”

Irritated, she gets up and throws away the empty cup of coffee. In the kitchen she takes out bags of flour and sugar.

“You should really stop smoking. Your father died of lung cancer. I’m not asking you to care about your family, I’m asking you to care about yourself.”

He gets up and follows her to the kitchen.

“You love coffee, I love cigarettes. We both know why. Some parts of our family life will never fully escape us, will they?” He says as he leans on the counter while she makes a cake batter, her mother’s recipe.

“Yes. But I’m your family now. And I want you to stop smoking.” She demands.

“Yeah, I’ll stop. I’ve been meaning to, anyway. Dad is gone. It’s not the same any more.” He says as he rolls his hands around her waist.

“If only your mother knew how you honoured your father.”

Turning her around to face him, he whispers, “Maybe bad relationships lead to bad habits. Mine is to honour the man I tried to get away from all my life by adopting the same habit as him. Yours is to make the same Christmas cake your mother used to make each year, all the while speaking not more than three words a year to either of your parents.”

She smoothens out the crinkle in his shirt and replies as gently as she can, “Yes, but my habit will not kill me. I want to spend my life with you, trying to forgive and forget our pasts. I do not want you to be my past.”

“I know. I decided before you came in that this is my last one. It’s been 5 years since the old man flew away. I don’t want to join him any time soon. This is the last. I promise.” he utters as he throws the cigarette into the trash. The empty cigarette butt falls into the empty coffee cup.

He breathes in. And out.

“Thank you.” She says before their lips meet and the taste of coffee and cigarettes dissolve into each other.

Oblivion

I’ve lost my anchor.

And I’m free to float. Yet I’m not happy. But I’m not depressed either. I’m stuck in a limbo somewhere in between. I feel what can best be described as nothingness, but with the occasional but powerful bout of nausea. Like I’m drowning.

I’m drowning in this world that I can no longer make sense of. I’m drowning till the edge of recognition. I’m drowning, yet I’m making no effort to surface.

It begins with shafts of sunlight seeping through the water so I can see the intensity but I can’t feel it. This disjoined sensory intake confuses me. I can see my life that I left behind, yet I can’t feel it. The memories are there, but the emotion is lost. But what good are glimpses of a past life without despair or desire to put it into perspective?

As the wings of the water envelope me, the sunlight fades into a gentle glow. And my memories become blurry. I chide myself for not appreciating the memories I that could see. The feelings may not be there, but there was a safety in seeing familiar faces. As the glow dims, I feel agitated. I can’t remember the faces in the memories. I’d forgotten the names long ago. And as I sink, I forget why I was agitated. So I let the water engulf me to fill the empty places in my soul.

The water tangles my hair into knots, but vanity was the first thing to leave me. I wonder if my sanity will soon follow. I wonder if my humanity will too.

The steady current syncs with my heart beat while the stream of water dissolves the layers of myself that I’ve built up over the years. One by one, every element of my life is stripped away until I’m naked and my soul is bare.

Now I am pure. I am unadulterated. I have no memories, no emotions, no preconceived ideas and no bias. I cannot remember anything that was externally put into my head. I have no ideas of beauty, happiness, success, god, life or death. I am my unsullied self and only myself, not a product of society.

I still have my consciousness and my body. The darkness around me grows thicker and the last remaining hints of light on the surface look like stars on a cloudy night.

But I can feel my body slipping away too. My limbs aren’t responding to my consciousness. The cold is slowly replaced by a numbness and the suffocation comes so transiently that I almost don’t notice. My eyelids start to close like flowers when the sun goes down. I’m almost at the bottom. I’m almost done.

Then I suddenly I remember everything. It all comes back to me faster than lightning. My family, my friends, my aspirations, my dreams. My life flashes before my heavy eyes and I suddenly get the strength to lift my limbs. I trash and turn and move and slither, screaming till my lungs feel like they will burst. I cannot let this go. I was so stupid to think that this was the best option. The sorrow and hurt I will leave in my wake is not worth my selfish insecurities. The sound of silence is not worth it if it is permanent.

I will not go down with this ship.

Then I hit the bottom and I’m lost in the oblivion.

Ablaze

If we will die while the night grows dark,
We will both pass away happy.
We will be safe and cozy,
Waiting, just you and me.

I can see the warmth smoking off your skin.
I can feel your sweet smile.
Our shadows become one,
As we watch them intertwine.

Your arms are my secret haven,
And I know you will remember me,
When oblivion and ashes,
Become our stark reality.

But don’t worry, love! And I, you.
I will not regret nor forget.
Even as the flames dance dangerously,
Close to where we rest.

Pull me closer; we are one.
Nor burning hell, nor calming heaven,
Can do us any harm.
Hold me as we watch out life go by,
In flames, for the last time.