by Mrunmayee Saudade
I dreamt I wasn’t me
But I wonder who I thought I could be
I lost my hair, then my eyes, then this face
Soon there wasn’t an arm or leg left; the surface
Of my skin turned alien and inexplicably free:
I became deliciously blind and then I could see
Once again, all at once, just once
but for a century-old eternity
I thought I could rhyme but what for anyhow?
Words are smoke: the smoke I exhale like a fog that envelops the street and then the town and silently threatens to kiss the world with its deadly lips but I think the world really wants to be kissed that way;
the world has been asking for it for thousands of years and my fog, meaningless and infinitesimal, still wants to play hide-and-seek.
I miss you, I said, but I missed you so much I didn’t really believe I meant it when I said it.
I understand now, I really do; I see what you meant when you said nothing and wrote word after line after page after book and universe after universe and swallowed me whole.
Words are smoke, I told myself when there was no one to listen – that isn’t quite as rare as other things –
And yes, words are smoke and I still love them and somehow I hate them even more and I hate them and hate them and I want to tear them off my walls and scratch them out of my skin and smother them in the mind of my mind before they can learn how to breathe.
You were wrong, the words can’t save me. Not the words, not the music, not your universe with all its vacuum and airlessness and weightlessness and most of all – not me.
I can’t do it; I won’t, I refuse to refuse this refusal and I refuse to try to save me.
It’s the most ridiculous word tonight, SAVE: such puny letters, such a stupid sound, such a meaningless meaning.
Why am I writing, then?
Don’t ask me, I’ll just refuse some more.
Illustration by Sawani Chaudhary