In this deeply thoughtful poem, Aditya Tiwari wonders what the absence of someone you know feels like. Sometimes it could feel like a song in the rain. At other times each memory they leave behind, could be squeezed, into nothing, is nothing, but dust.
What My Neighbour Left Behind
The Day That She Died
The day that she died she left behind
Four dead flowers in a vase, two fresh newspapers,
An old television, a refrigerator,
Pearl necklaces, a box of gold bangles,
Perfume bottles, a pack of Virginia slims,
Yesterday’s shadow, her smile,
The absence, like a song in the rain.
What she left behind was only enough
to fill - the empty rooms in her
If we were to go back
to the way we used to be
If everything we’ve lost
all our lives were to return
Our faces would be bright-lit
across a long river.
Each day, squeezed
into a grain, a petal.
Each memory, into nothing,
is nothing, but dust.
But remember, that the mouth
of the open river without
the rain - is a blue prayer,
Breathless, on a stranger’s face.
While many poets travel around the world to find the right words, to find their inspiration, Pallavi Singh finds her subject within her kitchen. She sees the world within her kettle ‘where ambition and hunger mix/ like coffee beans in water’.
In my home
kitchen is a neglected space
there are toasters and ovens and kettle
microwave and steamer and the barbeque
the slow cooker, the chopping board, the knives
but it’s the kettle I use every day.
primed to a boiling point
a scalding cauldron where ambition and hunger mix
like coffee beans in water.
It makes my coffee the easy way,
not the way my mother taught me
because that takes minutes when
my patience allows seconds.
For every drop I drink,
my impatience defines the course —
strong for the one who gifted me the kettle
black for those who wanted me pure
bitter for those who said I must know cooking.
A million coffees brewed every morning
in angry, un-abiding, storming kettles
when the world rushes out to work,
and I return to the boiler within me.
(Aditya Tiwari is a poet and gay rights activist. His first book of poems April is Lush (2019) received international acclaim. Learn more about him on Instagram and Twitter at @aprilislush.)
(Pallavi Singh is a bilingual writer, journalist and poet based in the UK, and has been awarded a grant from the Irish Arts Council for her writing. She is currently training as a business historian at a UK university and is part of the core leadership of an ecommerce startup based in London. She tweets @econhistorienne.)