On the days when I sleep under your eyelids, I dream. I wash my crumbling face in your tears and when I look into the sink my second face stares back at me, rusted jealous from all the other faces I’ve worn that week. Your tears are like cold springwater, that stings a little as it sizzles on my wounds. When you kiss me in the hollow silence of a house that has seen a child lose its childhood, the gasp I let out is akin to the shudder that runs down my spine the times I’m reminded of my father’s alcohol stained eyes; red and regretful. Regretful of what? Perhaps birthing a mule who sounded no protest when loaded with all his ambivalent intimacy and half baked ambition but refused to move an inch after? Or perhaps it was having built a home with bricks that won’t fit into each other and uneven, patchy paint that refused to hide scars and violence and murders underneath. If the tailor has no love for the torn trousers, the stitches would never make it whole again. The mind does forget but the body remembers. God has forgotten but the walls remember.
I claim you, not as a trophy, but as a parched bird that cannot fly claims water. I claim you not as a reborn Icarus but as an abandoned child grows to claim the love of a lover turned mother. When we crash, we crash into each other on an astral plane of the revolutionaries that shouldered the earth as the humans fell apart and drove rifts slashed across the surface that traced a shape like that of Jörmungandr, the World Serpent who was lonely enough that it ate itself. Who dines with the king when he wants to eat love? Who smiles with the millionaire when he’s not smiling at money? Who waits to eat with the chef when everyone else waits for the food to arrive at their table? Who continues to love a person that experiences symptoms of withdrawal when loved?
When my mother left me, she also took with her my voice. I was left with all the silence of my grief and loss. You gave me a bit of yours the first time you shared your breath with me and our lungs grew out of your mouths and fused. I never knew what to do with my hands till you took them from me and gave them a place to live in yours. Your fingers then are like tall pine trees that skirmish against the wind and the cold and bring my hands warmth. I lived like a nomad wandering the hearts of people, lingering right outside the door for a second too long and then bolting towards another – too afraid to enter because what if I find the welcome mat turned upside down? I’m too frail to survive in the streets and too rough to survive the tenderness of shelter.
You had another heart that you held suspended in the light that floats between a shared glance – a heart that you sent out to the other person when you looked them in the eyes and their gaze met yours, a future having been birthed in a fleeting moment in time, a fleeting image captured in two eager eyes hungry for certainty. A big bang of planets teeming with life that still felt hope, that still felt love, life that still smiled with their eyes.
To write is like my heart calling your heart, my eyes calling your eyes, speaking in a language no one else spoke, saying, “If you’re alone, then I have died.”
Could having a second heart not mean having a second life? Should having a second heart not mean having a second life?
Airplanes, wall-clock, party lights, christmas wreath, tears, tears, salt on my tongue, Sunday turkey, hand-rolled bread, green tea, plucked grassblade, Saturday warmth, steamed rice, half-boiled egg, washed dishes, dusty cupboards, empty mantle, curly chest hair, crooked teeth, skin like cinnamon, skin like the Sahara, skin like the moon’s surface, static, static, static, I love you, I need you to believe me when I say I love you, I try my best to love you. Tears, tears, knife in my heart, bullet in my brain, I will handcuff myself to your spine and camp beside your headstone, I love you. 32, 31, 30, 29…the seconds thunder by as the end of the world draws closer and I lie, my head glued to your chest. I promise you that when they find us, we will be stone together. Through your pressed teeth, a few words escape, “Are you going to miss me?”
“Are you going to miss me?”
I smile and even though I can’t see your face, I know you are smiling.
How do you miss someone you carry around with you in your bones and your name everywhere you go?
Let me put flowers in your hair you pretty boy, you have the power to stop my heart and revive it. When you laugh, I watch spellbound as if the dimple on your cheeks were the earth caving in to make space for God and your smile curve crisp amber like autumn leaves washed pink by my raining eyes.
Of Love And War
I fear your heterochromia sees both my faces, even on days I anvil them together – like oil and water they fall away/fall out. You sieve them apart on days they are both rice that won’t pass through my epiglottis for the only respite I know from guilt is to punish my body for not being Michelangelo’s marble twilight reception. Your razor eyelashes slice through my pollutant hair on weekends when the mirror catches up to me.
My shadow stalks me not the way the moon does. It stalks me not in the absence of light but when it has willfully subtracted light from light. My shadow only appears when I hate myself.
Your heterochromia undresses me with an alien love. When I undress, I leave my eyeballs outside. They can’t stand to look at their own tumble-down-slaughterhouse.
On this day, I have lived yesterday and the day before and the scalding sand only slips through the cracks in my imperfectly cupped hands. They are gulfed from all the sadness I convinced myself was gone.
My sadness is a carmine spider lilly pristine and decked in mason jars where I have kept captive stars and a sequestered paradise of bent palm trees and stygian soil. It is an artist’s ballad rolled flat over the map of your soothsayer hands. My sadness is lady chessboard, waxing and waning, mayan hand weaved mahogany. She shuts her eyes on my neon-gloamed dawn chorus and tells me that my love takes the shape of my lovers. She tells me my love is the numb of an ice pack on a fresh wasp sting. She tells me my love is a wormhole, the way I’d twist and bend out of space till my spine snaps and my face mangles into a shape that fits just right into the crest of your lap. My love is a wormhole the way I’d sail through a few years on the waves of aging skin on my face, no longer clinging to the skull, taut and vermillion but the sorry shade of a dying flame and carve it with my nails in the shape of a heartbeat. She tells me my sadness and love are twins, the way one wolfed down the other in the womb in a flashy attempt at self-preservation. She tells me, I love the way I caress a wilting flower, for I watered it more than it could handle. I love the way a scavenger feeds on abject discard but cleanses the earth of filth in the process. I love like an oxymoron, I love like Armageddon, I love like the raging sun. You’d perish if I Ieft and perish if I got too close.
My love hence, is art; hung in musuems to be heroic darling of freedom but caged behind elusive, spotless glass, a film of fear keeping me from the concrete, crucified to the abstract.
A warrior is a lover when they paint the battlefield with their corpse. A hawk is a lover when it shoves its progeny off the tree branch, knowing that a near waltz with death is the only way to make them fly. It is the only way they’d know they could. To love is to challenge fate to a game of Russian Roulette. To love, then, is to murder.
Your heterochromia claws apart my love and my sadness and it has said to me that to love is to walk on coal. It is to moue at the bitter in the tea but covet the song in its warmth like there’s no tomorrow. It is to plait religion together and build a God. To love, is to pray aloud with blades in your mouth. To love, is to frame the scars and cherish them as a reminder that you loved like an anguished mother who will give a hand so that her son lives.
An artist’s love, is apocalypse, and their sadness, poètes du vers libre.
A neurodivergent 18 year old who is still learning about herself, you’d usually find Shazia either lost in an Ocean Vuong novel or watching people go by on the road with a marlboro in her hand and music blasting in her ears. An aspiring English Honours graduate, she is trying to make ends meet and failing miserably at it, for there is so much to do, a universe to learn and such little time.