Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Sridala Swami

NOT LOSS BUT RESIDUE

NOT LOSS BUT RESIDUE

NOT LOSS BUT RESIDUE

He writes me letters at the back of the bus. A sacred text on a grain of rice. Things he
does not say to me over the phone. Old-fashioned, I call him and laugh at the things
he says.
When he speaks he stammers. Ink stains the page. What I have is a sword he has given me
willingly.
 
*
 
Just for once I want all the power. To keep you waiting on my words
measure my satisfaction in your loss. Just for once.
 
I am sitting at the window reading
          my eyes slide down the page and everything changes. You reach your hand
past my breast and grab my heart.
Squeeze. It smells of rust & weeds at low tide
your hand a slo-mo pulse.              I discover there are no such things
as heart strings.
 
When you tell me you dream of falling
I find ways to remove everything that could break your fall.
It’s not your    fall
           I want to break. Just for once
I want to talk to you and give nothing away.
 
*
 
He dreams my hands
are cut off at the wrist
and wakes up crying.
 
I flex my fingers
make a fist
take his hands and hold them
as a lover might.
 
His wrists have lines that might be scars.
I place my hand against his, palm to palm
as children and dancers do.
 
The measure of love is not loss but residue. Vasana.
Leave if you must but leave me a groove
in the mind
down which memory can run
like a cultivated habit.
Close

NOT LOSS BUT RESIDUE

He writes me letters at the back of the bus. A sacred text on a grain of rice. Things he
does not say to me over the phone. Old-fashioned, I call him and laugh at the things
he says.
When he speaks he stammers. Ink stains the page. What I have is a sword he has given me
willingly.
 
*
 
Just for once I want all the power. To keep you waiting on my words
measure my satisfaction in your loss. Just for once.
 
I am sitting at the window reading
          my eyes slide down the page and everything changes. You reach your hand
past my breast and grab my heart.
Squeeze. It smells of rust & weeds at low tide
your hand a slo-mo pulse.              I discover there are no such things
as heart strings.
 
When you tell me you dream of falling
I find ways to remove everything that could break your fall.
It’s not your    fall
           I want to break. Just for once
I want to talk to you and give nothing away.
 
*
 
He dreams my hands
are cut off at the wrist
and wakes up crying.
 
I flex my fingers
make a fist
take his hands and hold them
as a lover might.
 
His wrists have lines that might be scars.
I place my hand against his, palm to palm
as children and dancers do.
 
The measure of love is not loss but residue. Vasana.
Leave if you must but leave me a groove
in the mind
down which memory can run
like a cultivated habit.

NOT LOSS BUT RESIDUE

Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Ludo Pieters Gastschrijver Fonds
Hendrik Muller fonds
Lira fonds
J.E. Jurriaanse
Literature Translation Institute of Korea
Partners
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère