Time Travelers by Nalini Priyadarshni

Sprawled on the shore of forever
We are time travelers
Talking to each other across
Dusks and dawns of tomorrows
Toasting our marshmallows
In the bonfires of yesterdays
Sipping amnesia we pour into
Each other’s cups to heal
Wounds on our feet that keep
Changing shapes of our journeys
Like maps we abandoned after a brawl
In the bar that offered us tepid beer
With reheated fish that was beginning to fall apart
All we wanted to change was the music
But they wont let us anywhere near the jukebox
Men with gold chains and Rolex watches
With devotional songs for ringtones
Who laughed loudly at the jokes
Women in slinky saris whispered in their ears
Did not want our songs after they pocketed our coins

We are time travelers
Forever making beds on crossroads
Patting our pockets for stolen kisses at gloaming
Eyes fixed on horizons livid with promises
Of soft beds and steaming masala chai
Listening to chapattis being slapped on gridles
As jars of mango pickle waited on wall
Their mouths covered with mulmul torn from
Mother’s discarded sari bought from Dhaka
We wore as children in summer afternoons
When the family took refuge in a single room
Cooled by khus padded giant cooler for a nap
And we, playing under the canopy of mango trees,
assumed identities other than our own
Took out forbidden toys and invited neighbors we
Were not allowed to play with
Stole raw mangoes entrusted to our protection
Until their tang lacerated our tongues

We are time travelers
forever departing and arriving in pieces
Held together by long strands of memories
Mother rolled and tucked in the cloth pouch

Hanging by her mirror, every time
she combed her hair with a sigh
To those we call home, braving
Wind blast in our faces without flinching
With hair so short and sparse that can’t be parted
in middle or tied into neat plaits
Telling stories of lovers we almost made love to
To lovers we would never make love to
When we grow tired of playing pachisi
With pawns of time held in place under our tongues
Knowing there are no winners or losers
Other than sap of our imagining, gurgling in
Hollow of our chest waiting to bloom or wilt

We, the time travelers, sprawl and dream
Of glistening shells we broke open
And sweet sorrow of losing innocence
Drunk on apocryphal on the shore of forever

nalini-priyadarshni

Nalini Priyadarshni is a high school teacher, writer and editor. Her work has appeared at numerous magazines and international anthologies including Mad Swirl, Camel Saloon, Dukool, In-flight Magazine, Poetry Breakfast, The Riveter Review, The Open Road Review and The Yellow Chair. She lives in, India with her husband and two feisty kids.

 

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