In Other Trees, Other Songs
when i was 8 or 9 my stepfather tried to hang me when he could not abuse me anymore. blue nylon rope. mango tree. i flailed like a still alive fish being gutted slowly.
yesterday facebook asked me (again) if i knew this man. if i wanted to add him as a friend. i stepped onto the cold marble of our basil & tomato decorated terrace and remotely assessed all the swaying clotheslines, trying to guess which had a blue nylon rope underneath.
i watch the coconut seller hack at the fruit’s stubborn green head like a practiced butcher till we can peek into its malai flesh. is this how pain whetts us, tenders us – fissures us to our soft visceral rhizome of undoing.
someone you love leaves a keyhole open in your eye. the sands of time slowly pouring out as saltwater & aphasia. you think of the wheat grains tottering out of a mouse-gnawed gunny sack. the body leaving through the body.
the heart is a brief cry of an animal meeting the music of a falling blade.
i want to live elsewhere. a place where new isn’t always now.
i am tired of being awake. i am tired of eyelids & doorbells. i am tried of sunlight entering my bed like a cheating husband.
at the parking lot, he says – the greater medicine is to not want happiness but remain in the snug arms of a neutral nothingness. 3 years later, i am in agreement right down to the tip of each toe.
early morning as i wait for the car to take me to the airport, in the streets, my nightmare walks in the form of a woman with motel carpet hair howling profanities at the morning joggers. she screams snippets from a rape. the psychosis as stark as a throbbing nerve.
someone’s grandfather who sits in the temple garden & for whom i buy a bag of toffee every saturday. his son locks him out between 10 am & 6 pm. he shows me a picture of his dead wife and tells me how he’d courted her in a game of kite-flying.
to be loved like a fir falling to lightning.
when i pray, i ask for a repetition of beginnings. for the strength to forget what i couldn’t forgive.
now the numbness is turning into temporary paralysis. this afternoon my lower body remained motionless for 2 hours & i thought of an old folklore where two sisters are given a magical brew and whoever drinks it, turns into a flowering tree for a day. by the end of it, the tree is axed down by a logger, leaving the younger sister with the half girl, half tree torso of the older sister. i am my own sister. i am my own declining forest.
somedays i dream to be as boring and normal as a bowl of breakfast cereal, traffic lights at 8 am, a railway timetable, a desire to be needed.
violence is a choice not a condition.
my grandmother : stained glass lanterns in the living room, orange peel drying in the windowsill, tanjore paintings above my bedpost, rubbing lime juice over the calligraphy of henna on hands, the ears of two earthen lamps tucked into each other till one was full of the darkest kohl. the sparrow who came & stayed in my room the whole night i was shaped into a seashell, my limbs turning into inverted commas on the purple afghan. three years after her death.
i think about the poised arrows of your angled knees. when we meet, the peak of your nose disappears behind the black crayon cirrhus of my hair. our own fledgling earth science; our own hagiography of kisses like quasars.
the friend you miss. the one who is in providence. the one who taught you that it was possible to go to sleep without crying first. the softspoken skateboarder. zero & sigils. the one who is happy & invisible now.
tell me there is more to dreaming than just this neverending failure of a more absolute death.
Scherezade Siobhan is a WoC Indo-Roma psychologist, writer and the maker of world’s finest spanish omelettes. Her work has been published or is scheduled to appear in Queenmobs, The Nervous Breakdown, Electric Cereal, Potluck, Winter Tangerine, Fruita Pulp, tnYPress, DIAGRAM, Literary Orphans and others. She is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee for writing. Her first poetry collection, “Bone Tongue”, was published by Thought Catalog in 2015. Her full length poetry collection “Father, Husband” was released By Salopress in December 2015. She can be found squeeing about militant bunnies and neuroscience @zaharaesque on twitter and www.viperslang.tumblr.com.