Culture & Society

Poems On Love, Loss And Abandonment  

My ascetic body does not touch/My flesh of longingMy eyes waiting to find/And look at everything/They had ever lost

Love and loss

(Love is our deepest value: Love is freedom, love is salvation. If love tears us apart, it also keeps us alive. No matter what, love finds a way, almost always. Going against the grimy grain of contemporary political discourse, we have declared 2022 to be the year of love: for us, talking about love in a time of hatred is a revolutionary act. Outlook's issue revisited The Beatles’ words of wisdom: “All You Need Is Love.” What’s more, we will publish love stories all year long. The next full moon, which falls on February 16, is all set to put under the spotlight our passions, our romantic quests. On Valentine’s Day, we feature a curated selection of love stories that will tug at your heartstrings.)

`All night your moth-breath/Flickers among the flat pink roses 
                                                               ~ Sylvia Plath

We Are Made Of Losses

The urgency to speak
The desire not to be heard
The loss of a space, and
The loss of a voice 

In our parts of the world
Winters are frigid tales of loss
Of sunshine, youth, clarity
Of vigour, agility, suppleness
We recede into our own selves
With uninhibited shamelessness
Claiming lost parts of our being
Yet forgoing them
With a fair knowledge of that loss

In a breath’s timespan 
We will mark the calendar
With winter solstice, while the grief
Of the loss of another year shakes us
The sunbirds and the sparrows lost
In an apocalyptic haze

The cedar doors tremble
With familiarity
Of corn and sesame roasting over warm fires
Wooden beams from another era 
Smile away their discomfiture
I slip through cracks to alight anew
on the other side of a shriveled time. 

Last evening
I was in a roadside café
Drinking overpriced latte 
My mask dangling at an odd angle
Just in case someone sneezed 
Conversations went on nevertheless,
Like an overstretched symphony
I had lost the story firming up
In my mind, I drank

Sunsets and fire | Image credit: Shutterstock

Leaving an outrageous tip
For the girl with sad, soft eyes
Sunset marks the horizon
With a slow fire
The sky is laid hostage by grey clouds
My ascetic body does not touch
My flesh of longing
My eyes waiting to find
And look at everything
They had ever lost 

No Country For The Poor 

We are born free
We live for free
The air and water are free
The rain inundating our lands is free
The social spaces are free
The lighted foyers of malls are free 
Bread and salt is another matter, though
One has to walk a hundred miles
To excavate a field
For a kilo of golden wheat
And fragrant red rice
Freedom is free,
Poverty costs you a lot
In this free land


It’s twelve o’clock
I watch rain falling through the mirror
A small absence threads time's needle
Embroidering loss of minutes, hours, days
Loss blooming all over my body
Hanging in a ringed frame


In a distance, I see
someone burning leaves 
I drink in the red embers
and wonder
Where did I lose
So much of my fire!

A hole in heart | Shutterstock

A Poem Is A Hole In Heart

We had sung our wounds
Tended to them, sewn, dressed
A poem is a hole in heart
You never could hear 
Its lub dub
You twisted words into a gauze
And pressed it to my chest
I stand now, inert
In a pool of blood
Fully healed

(Taseer Gujral is a poet, editor, columnist and a translator. She is a core member of the WE (Women Empowered) group, and is one of the judges for the Kamala Das Award. )