The Peppermint Dream

 

R E J E C T I O N   A N T H O L O G Y

 

H I M A N G I   S H E K H A W A T

 

UNFAMILIARISE

The absurdity of a lack
Of something i had only momentarily
Hits me out of nowhere
Mama never taught me to expect trainwrecks
When she taught me to drive
Her company
Hits me out of nowhere
Mama, why didnt y-
ou
Teach me to crave, slightly
Teach me to adjust, quick-
ly
To a lack of light, arms outstretched i try
Not to wake her up
Reach out, look for
(What, exactly?)
Familiarity? Left it in bed
All but her in this house is new
Mama, you taught me to want new things
So i want, mama. I want.
To a lack of darkness, when she
Turns on the lights, asks me what i’m doing
Mama i was looking for a new new thing
So when i got back into the comfort of her familiarity
I would, perhaps, forget what i had left
And find a whole new being instead.
Mama did you, too?
Wreck yourself in the doing of
the wreck of yourself
Undoing of yourself
In the recklessness of yourself?
Mama she is draining me whole
I was floating mama, flying even
She smiled and i collapsed
Ribs breaking onto themselves no-
Flowers Mama an important man in
an important suit had told me
Or the world, he wrote
When your heart breaks flowers grow
Broke my ribs instead, mama no flowers here to see
Smells like peppermint, mama
did i make?
Did i make a mistake, mama?
She made me feel so small
Like a child telling mama “my knee’s scraped”
Why did i feel so small it was but-
8 months of tearful subtraction in our years
Wrote her a letter thought it was goodbye but mama
She sent me one back. Told me pretty things from her pretty
Heart and her pretty face wrote
Pretty words from my pretty pen i gave to her said
Pretty nothings from her pretty mouth mama im On the ground
Carry me like you used to please
Let me float again, teach me to float again
Mama are we sure? who can drain me so
In 137 minutes of useless conversation
Ribs broken and unbroken in the span of a couple
Hours mama detach me
Like you did me from you
Birthed me into this reckless wreck of a world mama
Why?

ma
m
a im drinking the tea she gave me today
Peppermint, mama
Peppermint.
Unfamiliarise me with her —– i’m
Losing Tou
c h.


BOXES

i was given three boxes
to pack up my life in
I put my clothes in one: six years of fabric
sweaters and frayed denim
Rolled up,
the only clothes I have left are the clothes on my back.
I buy a bigger box: the second one I put all my books in
books that sat on my shelves for years
built me from scratch, tore me apart
built me back up again.
the books barely fit in the box
and I cant seem to part with it; maybe it’s a good thing
its too heavy for me to move.
I go back to the store
ask the woman at the counter for the biggest box in the store
my room is empty but my walls are full
scraps and pieces of objects with my name on them, calling me,
asking me to pick them up, carry them forth; luring me into
the endlessness of reminiscing.
my mother thinks I think too much; at this point
I cannot not think. what if I forget,
why I kept this sticky note with a drawing of a glass of water on it in sharpie
or this chocolate wrapper that still smells of caramel
or pages and pages of things i can hardly recall ever writing
pen on paper, paper under pen
throw the pen away, the paper stays.
there are so many flowers pressed in so many notebooks
full of poems about love, poems I hope to grow to love.
what do I do with these old flowers?
there are so many tickets to so many places
I wish I could remember visiting
but cant bring myself to throw away;
what do I do with all this paper?
little snippets of lyric and poetry
carefully stuffed inside
carelessly kept cookie tins and shoe boxes.
my room does not have an open window
and it is winter; but as I sit on the floor
amidst a barely recognizable mess of decay and nostalgia
I feel warm. like the first day of summer.
the first summer breeze with the summer scent and the sunsets;
it smells so much like summer I couldn’t imagine what cold felt like if I tried.
I try to fit things inside the box
I cant care enough to take care of the things I fit in the box concerned only, with leaving nothing out.
my mother tapes it shut, I couldn’t bear to.
another fear comes creeping in, a cold winded realisation
that my box could get lost somewhere along the two-thousand-kilometre highway?
I figure
it couldn’t possibly be okay to have more than a big box full of memories
in just eighteen years of juvenile existence
so what if my box got lost?
maybe the perennial warmth of the sea there will keep my songs safe
sing it with the waves I miss oh-so-dearly
and maybe, the sand will press my pressed flowers into more sand.
we come empty-handed, and we leave the same.
it is pointless to hold on;
and this morbid realisation is strangely comforting.
an odd silence engulfs us as we say goodbye to the home
that raised me. we paint over
the walls, the little pencil drawings of daisies and bishops over my bed
and tape marks from the pictures on my walls.
the house is now entirely white
sterile, calm, new
we seem to have erased any evidence that we lived here.
I cant decide
if that’s a good thing or not.
I can barely breathe
but its okay
its okay
It will be.

 


 

PAVEMENT

Three feet of concrete
Cannot hold the two of us, together
There is too much
Tension, deception,
( love, perhaps? )
For us to be able to walk together.
So
We settle
You walk in front of me i,
Walk behind you
This is a somewhat comfortable arrangement
The concrete will still crack
If i walk too fast or you stop for half a second
It will break
If we get too close, or heaven forbid,
touch
Keep walking keep walking
Or i might hold your hand
To stop you from stepping into a puddle
And i might not want to let go.
Concrete was once liquid and it will melt again
Flow away, take
the pavement somewhere else
now we’re just standing
on burnt ground
Barefoot, our shoes gone
Naked, as we came
Turns out, as much as i despise
You, and love you and
Want you to be hit by a bus
And be, both
The one who hits you
And the one who jumps in front of it to save you
I don’t want you to step into a puddle
(you love your white shoes too much).
I hold your hand, stop you, let you go.
I smile, accept gratitude
Saved this pavement from having
To find a new pavement
To be a pavement in.


THE PEPPERMINT DREAM ABOUT THE TIME WE LOST THE MOON AND FOUND IT 366 DAYS LATER

In the dream, we sat facing a dried-up river that had never seen a drop of water. There was a cemetery next to us that we swore we would never enter again, and would never speak of what took place there either. There are some things that should be left alone in the middle of certain full-moon nights and that cemetery is one of them.
In the dream, we sat on a roof-top that could only be accessed through another rooftop which was in itself, inaccessible. But we’re young and reckless so we found our ways. We sat and talked about life. And by life, I obviously mean things that seemed very important and we ended up laughing about their insignificance and successively decreasing but never-ending childishness the next year. I remember not one word of what any of us said, and to be entirely honest, it could’ve been any group of people with me, but some combination of my association with the colour of the floor of that rooftop and the waking reality of me having such conversations with a certain group of people, I found that I believed it was them. Inevitably, finding nothing else to do or running out of things to talk about, we found ourselves staring at the full moon.
In the dream, we lost the moon. It is unheard of, to lose the moon from the middle of the sky. And we found ourselves humbly yet disgustingly ill-equipped to deal with this very serious situation on our very foolish, very juvenile hands. We ran from rooftop to rooftop looking for it. How does one look for a lost moon? How does one lose the moon in the first place? Not feeling old enough to deal with the responsibility of losing a celestial body, we went downstairs.
In the dream, I thought I might’ve dreamt up this dream. This easy, convenient explanation had fallen into my lap, of having dreamt up this secret disappearance of the moon, and I was quick to take it. However, in the way time warps only in dreams and skips months in seconds and minutes turn to hours, we came to the conclusion that none of us had dreamt it up, and we had not collectively or individually hallucinated that night. So we made a pact, to not take our eyes off the moon the upcoming October full-moon. And that is how we found ourselves, four of us and an extra sceptic to aid us on our quest to rediscover our secrets of the universe, on that rooftop after a full 365 days and 1, slightly better equipped to deal with the loss of the moon at midnight this time. So we sat there and stared at the moon, for over an hour around midnight, before, somewhere along the way, we found ourselves, having broken this awfully serious bout of obsessive staring at said celestial body, talking about life again. Being only slightly less, but not nearly enough juvenile than before, we lost track of time. And the next thing we knew, we had lost it again.
In the dream, the little shreds of hope that it was the sleep-deprivation or the borrowed-not-stolen alcohol, were gone. We collectively panicked this time, thought we should call NASA or someone who could do something about this whole thing. We spent our time on the interwebs, looking for explanations. Ran around, skipped rooftops with too-long steps. Space seemed to exist outside of the dream, and we could fold and wrap it as we pleased. At some point, we fell asleep in the dream and were woken up too soon by our faithful sceptic companion, to be told that, this particular full-moon night of this particular month was the earliest moonset time of the year. And we had all just big-time bamboozled ourselves into believing we had discovered something- unreal and untouched. The moon had simply set early- the earth and the moon seemed to have decided to fool us into believing we were more important than we actually were. So we packed our bags and prepared to leave in silence, almost disappointed by this unexpected solving of the great, grand mystery. We found that the thrill of not knowing was greater than the thrill of knowing. And that sometimes, not knowing something is better than knowing it.
I do not know how I know this much about moonset timings or that it is, in fact, true that the moon sets at 12.03 a.m. the mid-October full-moon. That night smells like peppermint and windy early-winter nights in my head. Drinking peppermint tea with a peppermint girl holding her peppermint hand, I was reminded of this dream so distinctly and absolutely, I almost believed it happened. And when I told my peppermint girl about this peppermint dream and how I almost believed it had actually happened, she smiled and smiled and smiled, and in a completely different but eerily similar way time warps in dreams, a couple of seconds but hours and hours of smiles later, she said, “Maybe so”. Maybe it happened, maybe it didn’t. But it does smell like peppermint tonight, and I feel as though I have been here before. And if I looked, I might lose the moon again. So I sleep. Sometimes, not knowing is better than knowing. And peppermint dreaming is only pleasant with a peppermint girl to dream with.

 

 

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