Perhaps we have been lied to
Perhaps there is no enduring intimacy; no marriage of hearts
Perhaps humans are stitched in and out of one another
Shredding, frantic fabrics
Tracing each other’s souls in search of forever
Perhaps it is time that we smile sadly
And bid farewell to eternal touch
Lean in and out of one another, calmly
Knowing that souls are not ours to grasp
We cannot own what is delicate
We can but touch it sweetly, gently
Then lose it to the busyness of being.
What is cowardice?
Cowardice is why we do not do good things.
I fear what I might fail; I evade it.
Cowardice smirks at indecision
It is not mirth: it is regret robed as laughter, for
it chose wrong.
Cowardice as complicity;
does not confess its privilege
for fear of accepting that it must act
and distrust itself
Cowardice seeps. Blood in water
Cowardice is love that lies
Words lost to the ether for fear that they might crack
leaking some feeling.
Cowardice lives but does not feel
I weep for it.
Pretty for a black girl
When they tell you that you are pretty for a black girl
You think but I am not black
You are not pretty either;
Your skin is a poem
Lust is no poem
He does not prose, he whimpers
He is afraid of words
He prefers the unsaid
For he mutes
where he prowls.
We are both half, says he, maybe we can eat curry and talk.
I am basically white though.
You wish you had found the words to tell him
there is no white
Asia is not a skin
Whiteness is not a person
people are not the feelings of others
they are the poems
One day we will write one together
and lust will cower
as poetry makes love to skin that was, after all
coloured by the silk of our words.
Letter to Little Me
This is a letter to the girl who wrote and read.
Thank you for being strong when things felt uncertain.
I am sorry I said those things to you. I am sorry I made you hurt.
Well done for trying new things, even when you were not good at them.
Well done for tasting spite and spitting it back out.
Well done for caring. That hurt too; but that is life.
Well done for building even when cement crumbled between layers;
I promise one day you will look at your creation and smile.
Well done for doing your homework;
Stop getting cross with mum when you get the wrong answer.
Well done for asking for help.
And now here are some things that I learned,
When we were busy fighting and fretting.
You will find them useful someday:
Do not conflate affection with
Do not conflate ferocity with
Do no conflate intelligence with
Do not conflate feeling with
Do not conflate vulnerability with
(she is beauty).
Trusting is not stupid; it is brave.
Looking into eyes is sweeter than any kiss.
Sexy and sexual are not the same.
Lust is just passion on the lowest volume.
Do away with having a type:
someone always changes your mind.
Giving a chance is a gorgeous thing;
but it is OK to give just one.
Do not bother straightening your hair
Mum is right; it looks fine.
When a boy tells you he does not like your haircut because
‘boys don’t like short hair’
cut it shorter.
Make conversation with those you dislike;
they might prove you wrong
(they might not).
Miracles do happen
People are as bad as you fear;
Nurse your wounds tenderly and with time.
People are as wonderful as you know:
loving them is lighter than any dream.
Apologise when you do wrong;
you are not always the victim.
Some people do not want to listen;
do not be afraid to give up on them
though it feels sad.
Laugh at mistakes
because that missed email
is just how it goes.
Leave things behind; you always said you would.
Let yourself feel
Warm up; drink tea; floss; don’t forget your iron pills.
It will be fine.
Today I felt it ripple
It is worlds inside my blood
Waterfalls that laugh there
Electric electric as they kill and simmer
There is tea here
A million footsteps of green that are
A boy sat on a branch apples in hand
Women and children crying
Sticky fire that eats a house and belches memories like poisonous blossom
Promises and lies and voices like in my world
Sri Lankan shores, lazy lizards
Lives so sad and sublime and I feel them but
Something like come
Something like let us touch you
We did not climb hills
We did not pick tea
We did not waltz in saris
We did not scold slaves
We did not traipse jungle
We did not learn abc in classrooms
Be seduced by creamy sunshine on palms
Drink from wells
Come here and dance, dance, dance in your black eyes
For you to forget
What forged you
Somewhere in the haze of
There are too many words for me to whisper
I shout them when I am drunk and they come out like tears
You made me feel so special
I was just a teenager trying to be cool
I never understood why you thought that I was.
I never understood how a flower blooms
And is gone
It does not shrivel
It does not blossom again
It did not even blow in the wind
I hope whatever took you was gentle with you
I hope it showed you all the feelings you gave everyone
I hope it gave them back
I hope you hear the cries of a new baby, a new marriage, a new world
Without you in
And know that you are in every pore it breathes
Your quiet smile
That came and went
Like a deer in a headlight
eyes like laughter
then running soft into a night
that holds you still.
(happy birthday Ceylan)