You know that old game
of separating flowers from their stalks?
A kind of decapitation, wouldn’t you call it?
The jasmine gets done with easily,
a brief headache.
The rose gives you the chance for a more elaborate charade.
We teach the children to be cruel
all for the sake of something that does not matter,
leads only to hurt
so they sit atop some knoll or rock
Yes, one has to make words as uncouth as the game
which only looks like fun in childhood,
this saying softly to themselves
she or he loves me
she or he loves me not.
Childhood is the time when
laughter rises easily to one’s lips
at the last petal bespeaking love
and tears at it not.
Childhood, easily enchanted, easier befooled.
The last petal
That sounds almost poetic.
White and orange-saffron as shiuli or red as the worn.
Or were they violet bluebell petals
in a postcard
“Can painted bluebells solace the blind?”
There are famous last words
and green roses,
but any flower is the same.
You finally come to the one
that punishes you for
breaking them off untimely
from their stalks
and counting the uncountable.
The last petal is a mute witness
No gift can save you from it
No cash can buy its silent speech
No love good enough to unwrite the shortchanged nature of your destiny
Just that, now you are grown up
tears do not line your eyelashes at its mocking you.
Only death does
one step closer,
seen in the mirror,
even after you make yourself look as if
nothing has happened;
wear a face to mask the abyss
that has again opened up
the one in which the only way out seems
to stop playing the game
forever this time
while death waltzes in the wings
of the sordid drama of your life
to hug you to make up for
all that you lost
to your violence.
Dr Koshy AV is a poet and critic but also writes fiction and prose. He is an editor and anthologist. He has his name on the cover of sixteen books in one or other of these capacities. His last book was Scream and other Urbane Legends which is a collection of short stories.