Dying to Meet You
for Aravind Adiga
Maybe it wasn’t deferred by the hardness of rain,
my lack of sincerity, your lover, an unfinished book,
a hangover; the cigarettes I didn’t smoke to save
my lungs. I wasn’t breathless last night. I dreamt
an email I opened from a publisher wishing me well
was an awful sign. You didn’t even enter my dream,
though it would make poetic sense to mention loss
in imagined fragments: how I left my bangles by your
bedside table; how you asked me to slide them off
so they wouldn’t chafe or ring the way memory does;
how you covered my pillowed face under a cold sheet.
I woke with a slight headache to morning’s amnesia,
some days I know not who I am, or how to begin.
Yet, you’re right. No one is dying to meet someone
like you. The poor are buried alive in seismic rubble,
their children swallowed by tsunamis are casualties
of global warming, over-population, urban sprawl.
How then to measure a grief which I sometimes desire
to share? How not to read your remarks as if you came
like an electronic prayer into my head? Is it worth you
knowing I trembled this morning at the very thought
of our real bodies meeting? Would I be grave? I am
so brittle lately, imperfectly divided. I am untouched.
In my yoga, you’re not the Brahman from whom I draw
breath. Perhaps, by now, I might know the epic nature
of suffering; the way we can be prisoners and still free,
not by purchase or design. By readiness for what this
day brings do we exist in the spaces between words.
“Dying to Meet You”: appeared in The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry Ed Sudeep Sen (HarperCollins, India) and The Yellow Nib Modern English Poetry by Indians Ed Sudeep Sen and Ciaran Carson (QUP, Belfast)