Three days after your death
I imagine meeting you
in a tunnel, lit only by starflowers,
your breath a singing echo in this cave.
There is an emptiness in this tunnel
filled with your breathing,
palpable in serrated edges.
You laughed it off,
we’ll make merry,
some rum, Turkish delight,
you praying late, late at night.
I want small hymns inscribed
on ornaments. Perhaps rice pearls,
they seem most appropriate
for the afterlife.
Nobody tells me how much
the act of breathing hurts
after a death. Traitor.
In these moments
it’s the details that flash back to me,
your elbows pointed like cats’ ears,
the one long strand of your hair inexplicably
caught on my coat on that freezing
February morning. Spring was bejewelled,
too much to bear. I remember you
in honey, in old combs,
in the faded colours of clothes
hanging in the garden.
That summer, your last,
you picked starflowers.
The Greenhouse at Night
In the greenhouse by moonlight,
the dark a gently trodden sea around us.
Shavings of silver draping themselves
over your eyebrows. A cat’s cradle of birches.
We sat for hours, I think,
scraping damp soil from beneath our fingernails,
talking little. I could never speak much
around you, I felt like I was swallowing dirt.
But to listen to you. A gleam, a flashlight
in the rooted dark. And yet,
how often you claimed it would not happen,
and I promised, shutting windows, that it wouldn’t.
It is as if I dreamed
the night in its whole sphere,
the purplish black of aged maps
licking around its edges.
I wished the night would swallow me whole.
I moved like a fish between seas,
the olive trees bending over my back,
their silver leaves absorbing moonlight.
Even now all I can think of is dark rain,
the slow blue gurgle of the river bed where
I last met you.
Pratyusha Prakash studies English Literature at the University of Edinburgh and is currently Poetry Editor at The Missing Slate. Her poetry, literary translations and travel articles have appeared in numerous publications.
Image credit: Michaela Pereira