when rain clouds swallow our city and fireflies fold their glow in the shiver of their tiny wings, you sit by the window and wait. from the room across, i look at you and pin away for the slice of your heart that will never be mine. there is the dry shriek of thunder. thorns of bougainvillea pierce the charcoal underbelly of the sky.

a gecko had perched itself on the ledge and watched with beady eyes as we lay spent, perspiring from every pore, the gold of daybreak pooled on our thighs. you had smiled as my fingers ran through your hair. my smile bloomed into a kiss. from over the rooftops, flocks of pigeon carried notes of riyaaz on their wings.

On the Road lies abandoned on your lap; pages turning wayward in the gusty fennel-breathing wind. in my tiny hands i hold unpredictability. sometimes i wonder how love slips from between fingers; how galaxies collide and birth fire balls; how the past resurrects itself and enchants us. the corner of your mouth curves into a tiny smile.

i watch till the rain dissolves the clarity of space and you become a watercolor without form, receding till your window becomes an outline only, a bulb-lit rectangle.

darling, must i ask her story? must i ask if the rain brings her dark eyes back to your mind?

©Mohana Das

Paper Boats

we never discussed the rain.
this monsoon when the water threatened
to swallow us whole, you curled
like a snail inside my rib-cage; Kolkata slept.

you are 6 and i your child-bride, quarter
mother held you to her sallow frame-

i dream i have let your fingers go in the onrush.

later i trawl out seaweed, sit
braiding strands of pastel disappointment into rugs as you
launch your umpteenth paper boat into our soggy lane.
i smile through my teeth; the
tea-laced morning has caught a flu.

©Mohana Das

do you ever think of her when we’re close?//this is why i don’t

because she can’t smell of you. she can’t
tremble the way you do. or explode at my touch.
she can’t hold me this way. see-
like i am a piece of glass. a piece of the moon.
like i am precious. like i could break.

she wouldn’t whisper to me nightlong,
long after i’m done listening. long after
the stars have made love to fireflies.
she can never curl into a poem, or
fall asleep inside my ears like a lullaby.

if it weren’t you, i could never wake up to mornings with
a letter, a poem, a fragment-song inked next to my navel,
or on my thigh. down my spine, sometimes on the inside of
my wrist. sometimes right across my heart,
in dangerous slants, “i love you.” and

she can never kiss me like you do. as if
your tiny mouth is a volcano exhaling life.
she doesn’t smile like dawn. or meteorites crashing
where they belong. no other lips can etch symphonies.
no other fingers can sketch storms.

darling, you look at me like i’m magic.

©Mohana Das