The trick is to not let time unspool.
Keep those minutes and hours boxed up, carefully.
Spend each second stingily — it is one less metaphysical flake from your mortality after all.
So un-leash each minute as if it is the last breathe that you take on your death-bed, remembering the loves of your life.
Leave infinity to roam inside you –
let it gather momentum and rip apart each scar and rush through and out.
Leave infinity to crash around in the hollow of your heart.
Let it spread in — out.
Leave no room for uncertainty; fold it’s dull chipped edges into a corner.
Be fickle. Unmask.
She liked the edges of things. Yellow borders that mark caution, fire escapes and brick walls.
She was drawn to splinters, scraps, bits and pieces of things. There is something about clutching only a shard of something that feels correct. The broken moon, bent flowers, singed bread toast. Damaged books with crumpled edges.
Most things are too big for us to grasp anyway. Most things lie empty, clattering noisily in the dark — waiting patiently to be released, to be collected. To be gathered up, to belong inside a bundle.
She preferred things that were left alone, too shiny to be discarded, but forgotten nonetheless.
Momma never knew.
Cornered inside the pantry, Mariam pushed her against the wall and slid her tongue between her lips. Momma would call out and Leila ran, hands shaking, flour surrendered.
“Why’re you sweating, girl? Go wash your face.” She did, she ran.
Momma never knew that Mariam waited for Leila by the school-gate daily. They walked home, fingers locked, munching almond cookies. Momma never knew how Mariam would press her fingers inside her skirt under the dinner table, nodding her head at Momma. “Yes, Aunty” – “No, Aunty” — “We’re gonna go up, study in Leila’s room, Aunty.”
Momma never knew.
I don’t need poetry anymore.
I folded it up and left it behind on the A train, wedged between seats. I left it hanging outside Central Park, wavering uncertainly in the wind as I rushed underground, in a big hurry to catch my ride.
It wasn’t appropriate anymore to dig through my heart for noise that will let me make music. For screams that can be leashed out to words and tied to meaning. Who will be around to explain that things change? The world becomes unrecognizable and it drifts.
We are grown now. Unless it is ‘eggs’ to the grocery list, there is no need to scribble anything urgently anywhere anymore. Much less in parks, or the inside of a church or waiting next to the bodega, sniffing the sharpness in the air. There is no poetry in trains anymore.
Time has lost its wisdom. It’s become distracted and hurried. And cluttered in a way that poetry can no longer sweep clean. There’s no order here, no rhymes and clicks that make sense.
Something gets snagged, caught. Not clear what it is yet. A piece that you can only taste, that doesn’t have words yet, not even a story or people. All you remember is feeling afraid and unhappy. It made you wake up and pay attention to the ceiling. I negotiate wisps of my dreams back. It solidifies reluctantly as if it were giving away a secret. There are cracks in my dream, and bits have slipped through, escaped my lazy scrutiny.
A midst groping for the words that will help carry my heaviness, I stop.
I tire of my verse. I grow impatient with my rusty handling of language and so I let my sadness remain inside me. I wait for my belly to shatter. I fling my words loose and let it unravel with the frivolous grace of toothpicks.
I tire of my breakable heart. The world shrugs through the telling of my sad tale —the city pierces with its jewel-cold lights — everyone has troubles, ya’ know.
The storm has pulled the unhurried winter with it. Note the world’s unhappy surprise, a large white cloud has smeared itself across the sky in protest.
I stumble upon remembering,
the last time —
the first time. dappled terrace, grilled and over-loved.
the middle times. airport traditions.
Cars stuffed with limbs, shoulders, your music and my longing.
Too much noise, not enough tears.
(I always come to leave you behind, didya’ notice?)
there’s a before and an after now — time is broken now
it spills into my skin — these moments, of breath
like a bird trapped, that I swallowed by mistake.