You see by the time you came back I’d become used to your absence.
It had been a while. And I was not the same woman you’d left.
How to learn to readjust to presence?
To train the hand to not reach for the last of the pears in the fruit basket.
To make space for another at the table.
To season food with more salt.
In bed, a welcome warmth. We seek each other and turn back time. We’ve always been good at this. There is no adjustment here.
But in the real world, the tongue hasn’t learnt to cleave silence.
The fingers curl from a wandering hand.
Your ghost had taken up residence in the wallpaper and the flooded basement.
This body behind me as I cook is an uncomfortable spectre.
The flowers bruise at the unwelcome nose. The dog’s fur is all wrong.
And then there’s the shoe rack.
My gladiators have no fight left. How my heels struggle for space.
I need to do nothing with these silences. They can stick like toffee to your teeth. Stretch like treacle pudding. Feel like a Sunday afternoon.
And I need to do nothing.
There is no industry in these silences. There is no frenetic lighting of candles, riding on bareback, wondering and watching, laundering slipcovers.
These silences are long and short. Painful and painless. Necessary and mostly not.
But they are.
What does one who no longer cares do with this silence?
Take each note of silence and create a multi-coloured amulet? Blue for the unspoken. White for the uttered. Yellow for the heart that hurts.
Take this silence and put it in a bale of hay and count how many seconds to turn to crisp. Golden yellow. Orangeangry.
Gather this silence scattered moonlight and try to piece it together to create a half-broken half beating world.
Dive deep into this silence. Find fish waiting with letters in their fins, leftover fantasies in their gills, and breathe like they do-heavy and shallow.
Turn your back to this beast of silence. Let averted eyes strengthen you. Let a shift in stance guide you.
May you always be (silence) free.
Sherbet Summers and Glo-Green Dreams
My summer soul craves spider plants and bath bombs and tall drinks of water. But not water.
It’s winter here and everything reminds me of loss.
The trees are trembling though not in rapture.
The river is frozen and silent. The ground is brittle under my feet.
Even the finches hop around in hushed tones.
Where is the sand between my toes and the decanter at my elbow?
Where are the drowsy afternoons and sticky sweaty nights?
Where are the curtained bed and its pleasures?
The trees turn green. The water finds a way. The ground shifts a little.
It’s less loss. More hope.
There comes the sunshine.
Poet, columnist and speaker, Dr. Srividya Sivakumar has been a teacher-trainer for twenty-one years, and has two collections of verse- The Heart is an Attic and The Blue Note. Her work appears in various journals and anthologies, including the Red River Book of Haibun VOL 1, Quesadilla and Other Adventures: Food Poems, and the Best Indian Poetry 2018. Her poem, Bamboo, was nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology in 2018. Srividya wrote a weekly column, Running on Poetry, for The Hindu’s Metroplus, for eighteen months. Her column currently appears in the journal, Narrow Road.