I think of her

This is an image of train tracks surrounded by a barren landscape. I've used it because it symbolizes a hard life which urges us to move on no matter what. Sometimes the thought of a loved one keeps us going and that's what my poem is about.

I thought of her when that romantic cottage
with its burgundy chimney, walls of stone
and dreamy garden leading up to a calm,
comforting, consoling canal became a favela:
a machine gun, overpopulated, tumbledown
town with littered streets, giving a sojourner
no succor.

I thought of her when post-rock songs by Mogwai,
If These Trees Could Talk, Explosions in the Sky and
Mono infused with a profound sadness became a
jarring, atonal cacophony – a noisy Tophet
where the off-tune screeching was the
scorching flame and the pneumatic drill reverberating
was the worm that didn’t stop gnawing.

I thought of her when Biblical verses didn’t speak anymore
and my reading of the Psalms turned against me,
making me David’s foe, and each Proverb stung
like a wasp and though I tried, tired and browbeaten,
I found no aesthetic, celestial grasp and needed
love; not validation, just love.

I thought of her when the temperature in my room
dropped, and I covered myself with bed sheets and
wore sweaters, but still shivered, my teeth chattering,
and no cigarette or swig of The Old Admiral helped,
and yesterday’s warmth seemed a sepia memory,
dissolving in the acid of self-loathing and scruples,
condemning me, chastising me and making
me wage war on myself, a personality split right
in the center with an ax of false guilt.

I thought of her when I sat among friends in some
noisy bar, the reckless revelry never appealing, the
gossip and the boisterous joking so repulsive,
and though they got me to dance, all I saw
were the faces of demons, ready to devour in their
intoxicated false fire, the clinking of the glasses
and the ‘Hurrahs!’ Only betraying a monochromatic
banality beneath a gaudy façade of togetherness.

I thought of her when I scored that goal on the football
field, a step-over and a low, left footed drive, an ephemeral
thrill, a false euphoria, a momentary increase of dopamine
levels that left just as quickly as it arrived, like the breeze,
and I didn’t bother celebrating or even acknowledging
pats on the back which became curses yelled the very next
day when nothing I did worked, and I went home and
tossed the studs in the corner of the attic,
vowing to never play again.

I thought of her when I kissed another, she smiled and so
did I, but my thoughts were elsewhere, a mistake, a foolish
thrill that loneliness made me seek, just like it
often makes me want to jump off this apartment
complex. We closed our eyes and it seemed perfect,
just like things masquerade wearing gilded crowns
adorned with gemstones, when they’re just thorns
stitched together haphazardly.

I thought of her when I read fantasy books, placing
myself in the protagonist’s shoes and her the other
who makes him whole, fighting demons using wards,
or drawing from the source and destroying the
forsaken, or just warring using sword and shield, a mere
mortal with her immortal talisman, until I found
myself on an ashen road purged of both magic
and technology, never-ending, a dystopian
journey, the very antithesis of life.

I think of her even now, though my thoughts don’t
reach her and I’ve kept all the poems I wrote her
locked, and plan on never re-reading them, though
I look at the crossroads outside my apartment complex
at night, the streets lit by dim streetlights and the
blaring headlights of speeding cars, each man or
woman journeying, traveling, traversing and
lost in transition.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

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