You were here

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My beret was damp with rainwater. Something about the rain today makes it sharp, prickly against my skin, like shards of glass. An angry lover has thrown a bouquet of pink roses on the floor, all its thorns falling down in a melody. I did not think of the umbrella in my bag as I walked from the driveway to the door. I place my hat in a watery choice on the coffee table. The eyes in the oil-painting we bought for our hall look numb. They seem to be looking away, outside, at the ice plants that smile like death.

I turn right, and walk upstairs. The sound of your music plays with my footsteps. I picture your hands moving like liquid from one key to the next, and in the spaces, something fills like a flower blooming in slow-motion. On the podium, I pause to brush my fingers on window. But the raindrops race and I quicken my step when your song grows louder. The attic’s green door is open, and your ghost sits on a stool by the piano. Your grey eyes turn to me, full of tears that refuse to cry, as if all the rain in the sky was here, in this grey room, between us, and if I touched you, it will all disappear.

I pull a chair and sit down opposite, fold my hands on the lid and place my chin on my arms as I listen to you stop at a crescendo, and then softly, play on, a song of life after love. I have left no wet footprints on the stairway, the house is cold like before. Nothing can tell if I was here, and for a while, you were too.

 

#MarchMosaic

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Old-School

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I wish we lived in an age of letters and radios and playing in the parks in the evening. An age of passing smiles to strangers and reading poetry out loud to share your favourite lines. Having to go out to buy flowers and fresh beans for tonight’s dinner.

But in the pre-computer age, how do you tell someone you miss them when they are miles away on their birthday? Shall I write you an e-mail at midnight, and pretend to have loved you in letters? Let technology save us sometimes when I want to show you the colours of dusk in my sky

 

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Breakfast Smoothie

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You still have a moustache of chocolate foam above your lips

So we fumble a little at the door

Before I peck your cheek in a goodbye kiss.

 

I rush to the balcony to look at you again

You hadn’t turned to the mirror in the elevator

It’s five past nine, and you are running late.

 

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The Shape of Snow

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You squint your eyes and look outside the window, trying to discern if it’s snowing against the bedsheet white sky, or whether all of this is a passing illusion and you still haven’t quite woken up.

You look down at the swatches of grass and the cement of the roads for a sign that will give it away, for settling clouds,

but snow falls like whispers, kisses from a secret lover, full apples dropped from a tree that smash against the earth and turn unrecognisable the next second,

it’s already being pinned under walking boots and seeping into the fine geometric lines on the pavement,

Look.

 

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Lives

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In some lives, you are slow, as you watch the watercolour spill softly across the grass. Turning from blue to white, then meeting pink and red pools and quickly quilled into flowers.

On other days, hurrying, a paraphernalia about to turn into a painting waits spread across the living room floor. You leave violet fingerprints on the knob as you leave home.

 

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Apricot Conserve

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Sometimes, buying marmalade can be a big step. It could mark the settling down in a space, the waking up to a familiarity, claiming a spot in a refrigerator that wasn’t yours yesterday. I think there is something romantic in walking around the kitchen, eating toast without a plate, and spreading your arms on the sofa, like you belong here.

It might be how you start making a new life.

 

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Postcards With Love

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Dear darling

I hope you turn this postcard over after it has sat on the lip of your door for a few days. Give this a chance. If you are here, and before you go, I must say I love and miss you more than I can bear. I keep imagining what you must look like now. I have a photo of you as a baby that I wear in my locket, and I look at it often, picturing those big round brown eyes on an older face, with a lady’s nose. I know you must smile beautifully. Are you tall? I think so.

I don’t want to take much time, you must have so much keeping you occupied. I just wanted to send you an old recipe I have kept safe. My mother made blinis for us every Saturday morning, and we ate them very happily in the sun. They are a big favourite among children, your kids would like them. It goes very well with cream, or salmon, if you like fish. I think you do.

That was all really. Maybe you could call someday. Or visit. They allow us to meet visitors every Wednesday between four and five in the evening. Don’t worry, I will not ask you to write back. But know that you I remember you everyday. If you ever do make blinis, I hope you find pieces of my love in them.

Mama

I am sorry I forgot to fix your record player

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You liked listening to him sing, didn’t you? I try imagining his strong bass voice, a younger charm in his grey eyes. I think I see why you loved him so. I see you sitting by his side, an old record playing in some corner of the room. He put some ice in his scotch, you smiled and rest your head on the leather-backed chair. Everything smells like a brown memory from an album I saw as a young child, I do not remember much of it, the spaces I miss, I fill with my own imaginations. This is only part-reality.

Yet I see it all confounded in your soft glance as you look at me and smile. I see this history, a life you have lived and I can only dream piece by piece, slipping across your smooth olive skin, unwrinkled, warm. I have come home after ages it seems, although it has only been a few months. You embrace me so completely I do not feel your weight against mine. You gently caress my hair, notice how it has grown long, tie it for me neatly, smile so brightly that only then I realise what being home, safe and loved, feels like. Lying by your side later that evening, I look around the room as you sleep. So very little and so much is here, photographs of all your grandchildren. Dried leaves and flowers pasted inside a photo-frame. A rosary and a pair of woollen socks. I look then at a lighter patch, a dust-rimmed square where something had long sat. The emptiness on the mahogany desk, suddenly reminded me of your broken record player.

Some weeks before I left, I took your charming possession from you, promising to get it repaired. You did not ask me about it when I returned the next week and the one after that, telling me only, repeatedly, to take good care of myself when I am so far away, to eat well, and stay covered in the cold. My thoughts rush back to where I left it last, perhaps it rusts somewhere in my room, in the dark, forgotten and lost. Perhaps it is still singing the last song you played on it, like an echo from a voice you had loved and lived by. I didn’t say anything when you woke up, and spent the night talking to you deeply. Forgive me now, for all the evenings I stole your music from you, and with it, the keepsake of your years. The music you missed would have missed you too, it would have filled the quiet with something whole and familiar. Perhaps, you would have hummed when Kishore sang along an accordion. Perhaps their words would have fallen like snowy kisses on your pillow, songs could have woven together the memories and silvering leaves you have stored on your desk. Can I promise again to return your music to you? Perhaps you could play your favourite records for me once more before I have to leave, and I will carry their songs brownly in my heart as I grow old.