Poetry

The tides of March

Drop after drop
Dripping and drooling
Spilling and spooling
Spirals and spires
Mud pits and mires
Cleaving and cloning
Drowning and droning
Hasting and heaving
Blessing, bereaving
Treading and trudging
Kneading and nudging

Then swiftly, a stop

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Prose

When snow fell

That morning, snow fell in clusters so thick even the birds, which had lately been signaling the coming of spring, looked up in astonishment and shook their heads. With their cries stifled, the horizon I woke up to was a land mass covered with a duvet of angel down and silence. Both comforted me immensely.

I sat up in my bed and gazed at the snow in voiceless prayer to the one who would surely hear. With all noises drowned, my unuttered words would surely rise to him and his voice would thunder from the white sky overhead. Perhaps the clouds would part, revealing a display of resplendent, golden light that would fill my room—and my soul—with the warmth it had been craving.

I sat and waited. My prayer never rose to the skies. It hovered briefly in the air, then sank to the ground as it grew colder, heavier.

The clouds remained impenetrable, the ambient silence impervious. Unmoved by my feeble attempt. The colorless landscape was wearisome to my eyes. I grew restless again.

It had been like this for days, perhaps months. I’d wake up in anticipation of new hope. It turned out to be still-born or short-lived. I’d hold its limp body in my arms, surveying the beauty that could have been. A moment of grieving later, I’d sing a solemn dirge, and lay my hope to its eternal rest. I’d fashion a simple cross out of twigs and plant it firmly in the ground, affirming the finality of this act.

Day after day, I’d roam the streets, looking for hope among the unfamiliar faces. But I saw none in those hapless oblong approximations of human form. They were equally bogged down, each hauling their own barge, a load too heavy for one’s back.

There were times when I thought I saw a glimpse of joy, a smile. But when I drew closer, it turned out to be a grin or a sneer. The pleasant contours had dissipated like a dream when one awakens. All that was left was a faint memory, a whiff of hope—but even that had turned sour.

So I kept walking, covering kilometer after kilometer of paved streets as they meandered through the city center. I’d reach the embankment and stare across the river—not directly across, where the distance was shortest and I could still make out even the minutest objects distinctly. Instead, I’d look diagonally over the steel-gray expanse which gradually faded into mist. I wanted to know if perhaps, one day, a solid shape would emerge from this nebulous canvas and advance slowly, majestically towards me. And when that did not happen, I’d carry on for as long as my feet could carry me—and by now, they’d been trained to walk as far as the ends of the earth.

In the end, when I saw the sun reaching a low point on the horizon, I decided to turn back and continue the next day. I’d take the tram and stare out of the window or blankly gaze at my own reflection until my stop came up. Then I mechanically got up, made for the door, and walked the rest of the way home without even remembering how I got there.

Dinners were a simple, lonely affair bathed in incandescent light: A sandwich or a cup of chicken broth or both, if I was feeling fanciful. Afterwards I’d seek solace in the embrace of a book; at other times, I’d put on Grieg or Chopin and hum along. On occasions, I’d turn on the TV and scroll endlessly through a list of movies none of which I intended to watch. In the end, I’d retire to the bathroom, soak my body in steaming-hot water, and thus cleansed of any lingering listlessness, I’d lie down on my spine, arms neatly arranged alongside my body. If they find me like this, I thought to myself, they’ll be pleased I made it so easy for them.

And thus, my mind turned to my ultimate destiny, I watched myself practice dying peacefully in my sleep. For in the morning, I’d be born again from my ashes.

That morning, when snow fell in clusters so thick even the birds, which had lately been signaling the coming of spring, looked up in astonishment and shook their heads—that morning I was full of anticipation. Surely, things would be different today. The resounding voice would fill the sky and, enveloping me in its echoing warmth, pronounce the long-awaited affirmation.

Instead, it was another day of plodding through the countless streets and, hour by hour, watching the comforting blanket disappear under a million footsteps until the pavement was bare once again.

When dusk arrived, I found myself in a neighborhood I did not recognize. I was walking down a narrow street whose houses, like me, had seen better days. Their vibrant colors had given way to grime; their proud, boisterous visage weathered, sagging.

I turned a corner and came out on a dimly-lit square where, out of the shadows, stepped a bold, opulent edifice erected to the one who should have heard my prayers. And, suddenly, without the slightest sign of caution, I felt my anger stir inside me and rise until it reached the spire. My voice thundered, then broke, pleaded, and, eventually, gave out.

I do not remember the way home that day. My thoughts had all been poured out and left behind in that squalid square.

When I reached my apartment, I threw my body resignedly on the bed, hoping to bring to completion what I had been rehearsing for. This was it. That very night my life would be demanded from me, I knew. I had been embittered and enraged. I had spoken when I should have kept silent. I had blasphemed the one I did not understand. Then darkness closed in.

I woke up void of any expectation and infused with a growing sense of embarrassment. I did not venture to glance out of the window. I hastily ate breakfast, dressed, and rushed out to spend the day hiding from the one whose wrath was sure to swallow me up.

Three paces later, I came to a halt, right by the patch where I had buried all my hopes. There the little twig crosses were planted in a neat, narrow row. And sprouting out of one was a tiny green shoot.

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Poetry

A stillborn season

A stillborn season is but a season still
What does it matter if it lasts a year
Or ends after a week at will?

And one that flounders is but a season too
Why should we harshly judge its trembling gait
Or gripe that no grapes grew?

Rather than blame the blight and slur the season
I offer thanks for life and reason

Another night has come, another day
Another season dawns
Well, come what may

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Poetry

When I saw your brown leaves

When I saw your brown leaves
On the sidewalk this morning
I was refreshed
At this mark
Of a nascent fall

When I heard morning mist
Like a cat creeping slowly
I sprang to life
At the sound
Of its gentle footfall

When I got home
For the first time in days
I was able to closely
Consider my face

It had grown weary
From sun’s stolid heat
But through your grace
I still walk on my feet

And my face is grown milder
Like the days of the season

Perhaps for this, too,
There’s a reason

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Poetry

Drifted apart

We meet again on our old turf
Where we once used to rule the world
Just years ago, inseparable
Now each of us has gone our way

We have drifted, drifted apart

Our boyhood dreams of sun and surf
Have melted as our lives unfurled
The damage is irreparable
So why should I bother to stay?

My thoughts gave me a start

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Poetry

Statues

Tear down these idols
The soulless white ghosts
And never build other
Deplorable posts
Sooner or later
You’ll find them all flawed
If worship you must,
Why not worship God?

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Songs

Be Still and Know

We started a little virtual choir with some of my friends. It’s called The Unseen Choir and this is our pilot project. It’s a message that we feel needs to be heard at this time especially, when people’s hearts are gripped with fear and anxiety over the COVID-19 situation. May it soothe your soul at this difficult time!

If you like this post, feel free to give us a like/follow on Facebook.

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Prose

Oliver’s Twist

When Oliver woke up that morning, he could sense something was amiss. For one thing, he felt rested—which never happened. Even more significantly, the only thing coming in through the open window was—silence.

He looked out onto a street full of slumbering cars. It unnerved him.

Finding the remote, he turned on the TV.

“We are potentially all at risk as it is yet unknown how quickly the virus may spread,” the reporter was saying in a cheerful, peppy tone. “The government has therefore declared a state of emergency, banning all citizens from leaving their homes without a face mask.”

While the words were still fading into his consciousness, he heard his phone vibrate—briefly but resolutely.

“Due to present health crisis, all employees are to work from home until further notice. Email communication to follow.”

Although Oliver had occasionally worked from home before, it had never been on his boss’ orders. He looked up from his phone and in a single glance captured the entire living space of his studio apartment. Instantly, something gripped his throat with an ever-tightening squeeze.

“Must go out!” his brain was screaming.

“Must go out!” his legs were pulling him.

“Must go out!” every single cell in his body was chanting.

Pulling on yesterday’s pants and the sweater he’d meant to have washed a week earlier, he tied a bandanna around his nose and mouth and broke out of the confinement of his four walls.

He sped down the stairs and was out of the building in seconds, but didn’t stop running until he reached the park.

Predictably, there were no people around. It was barely ten minutes after seven.

Oliver looked up at the sky—the vast, endless canopy overhead—and felt the grip around his throat relax. He could breathe again. He could enjoy life again: The crazy birds with their boisterous arguments, the air fragrant with nascent spring. It was all there.

He made his way to the pond where the ducks and the moorhens observed their breakfast quietly. But as he leaned over, to get a closer view of this spectacle, he noticed his own reflection and saw the unnatural muzzle. He could have sworn it was beginning to tighten around his face.

His throat closed up again. His nose refused to take in air and his mouth was just gasping and gaping. In a fit of panic, Oliver took to his feet again and did not stop running until he had shut his apartment door behind him.

“Free at last!” he announced jubilantly to no one in particular as he ripped off his makeshift face mask.

His smile soon faded. Here it was again: The same four walls closing in on him.

He looked at his watch. The dial read 7:25. And a voice inside his head came mocking him, “Until further notice.”

It was going to be a long day.

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