Of Cities I Remember.

I’ve changed cities more times than the number of days in a year.

Soon I lost my liking for constancy and homeliness. I painted the walls of my house a different colour each time; something to remember that city by.

I misplaced fragments of my memory, and more often than not I started remembering people, not by their names but by their scent of their presence.

Every place looks the same but feels differently than before, every language like a first kiss.

It’s been too long for me to tell one city from another- I fly across the world without borders. I wake up to the same shadows of the day, clinging over one another. A roadside café, a tower, and a man, I have written and forgotten about.

But sometimes when you’re all alone in this new city, remember, that wherever you go, love from different corners of the world follows your footsteps.

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Runaway.

“One ticket, please”

“Where to?”

“Farthest”, I say

I take the corner seat of the aisle

My burgundy suitcase between my legs

Heavy with shreds of my wavering strength

And an old scotch bottle in my hands

I’m dressed head to toe

In my pearly blue turtleneck

Hiding all the testaments of your sour kisses

 

There’s a long dark tunnel

And 1200 miles to go

As I pass every milestone

Crossing borders and bridges

I can feel my fingers warm up again

Distant from your cold touch

I feel a step closer to life

 

 

The Time Traveler

I toss and turn in my bed, pull of the sheets. It’s hot. It is midnight.

Funnily enough, it’s December and the cold has painted the city snowy white, yet I sweat, unable to sleep.

“Hello? Hello?” I say nothing and hang up. I record our 5 second long conversation with  your two sleepy, fainted hellos and play it on repeat. It’s like travelling back in time.

Your voice puts me to sleep, crawls through my body, and brushes against my feet. It trickles down my spine; taking me back in time.

Your ghost whispers sweet nothings in my ear; it dances around my house at midnight.

Unable to sleep, I walk around the house, trying to find a spot bereft of your scent. I pull out your old teak box from under the rusty cupboard in the store room. I suddenly feel a chill. I finally feel the December cold. Filled with your obsessive compulsion to collect dainty jewellery and little trinkets, this box haunts me. It chimes when your anklet moves through it.

So, I put it in a carton, and tape it as tightly as I could.  So that none of your memories spill out of it and find corners in my home. I post it to you.

It is 5 am and I need to go to bed. I haven’t slept in a long while.

I’m no more looking for our lost shred of time.

 

A Stranger’s Song

   Let me draw you a picture,

A river, a sea,

       Let me kiss your necklace in your sleep,

Let me tie us into a knot,

 With twigs and twines.

                                                          Let me whisper you tales,                                                           Of Adam and Eve.

If you let me in,

   Honey, I’ll waltz you to your dreams.

 

Rewind?

I place my old, wrinkly hands,

On my eyes,

For the world to stop,

curl like a thread,

And unwind to the days when,

we walked with small, slow steps.

When the wind traipsed, and stopped to say hello.

Houses chimed with jingling whiskey glasses,

And Muphy radios played Presley songs all day long.

Somewhere a stuck cassette left longings,

Somewhere, a stale unposted letter.

The streets smelled of warm apple pies,

And love meant sneaking a kiss at the porch.

The neighbourhood bled with ivies,

And the doors were always open,

Awaiting the warriors.

People said I love you with mix tapes and pale postcards,

And looked at strangers without lifting their eyes.

Spring used to come with bluebells,

And summer dresses that stole men’s heart away.

Christmas meant sleepless nights,

Carnivals spuming golden stars,

Young love trickled down the Ferris wheel.

It was the year he looked at me,

From across the street,

And I left my heart in 1954.

Everyday.

When I remember you,

I clutter and declutter my cupboard.

I shelf my books by colour,

I arrange the cushions by size,

And I check the lights and locks.

I wonder how my shirts have lost their lustre,

And then I throw them into the washer again.

I dust our clean pictures on the wall,

And make my coffee,

While a cup untouched sits next to the window.

I write the grocery list that I misplaced,

Only to find a dozen of them in the lost drawer.

Sometimes, I unravel the threads of my sweater,

And even pick grains of sand.

The next morning,

I forget, and repeat it all again.

Unexpected Mail.

Ted,

You might be taken aback when you find this letter from me, squirming and rolling your eyes like you always do. Thinking what could I possibly have to say to you? But I’m only doing this for Jen.

I never liked you a lot, I’m sure you know that. I did not like you when you swayed her away from her sensibilities, made her a Tolstoy lover and addicted her to scrabble. She reads poetry now and tries to look for you between its lines.

I did not like you, when you sneaked into our hostel and made her toes curl so much so that I was afraid she’d trip. And I liked you the least when you asked her to run away with you.

In spite of it all, I know you love her and I’m sure you know that she does too. How am I so sure, you ask? Well for one thing, she wears your name around her neck. Not because you asked her to but because she loves your presence on her. The bookmarks in her books aren’t ribbons but pictures of you.

However one thing I doubt you know is how quiet she can be underneath that entire chirp.

And it’s important to let you know that for all those times that she did not tell you back that she loved you, she was probably whispering it under her breath.

There will be times when she will not say anything, but she means well. I just want you to know that during those times you would have to complete her sentences. She might not be very vocal, but she’ll carefully listen to every letter you say; even before you say it.

So if at all ever there are things left unsaid, will you say them for her?

Best,

Maggie.