The Cruelty of Writing and Other Stories

Try not to think about censorship
when you write after a very long time–
you tend to cut more than you write
and before you know
the feathered whites of your sheets peep out
from diagonal black slashes

when I write after a long long time
I don’t write notes in the margins of a textbook
I don’t write a novel on a park bench,
soaking up the remnants of the sun
my feet touching the eddies of the leaves on the moist earth
I don’t write recipes to fill up the gaping hole in my heart–
slowly expanding after scrolling through hours and hours of poetry I wish I could have written myself

I am not writing
a love letter
an anonymous communique
a constitution of rights,
I am trying to hit backspace as little as possible
I practice this everyday;
to sit without an eraser and
to write without caring about my mistakes
I call it spearheading
but somehow, even after months of this practice,
I don’t have a target to jab my spearhead into
I don’t think I know how to orient myself in one of the infinite possibilities
I try not to think about choices
choices spoil you

try using one word to write a poem
take my heart away,
I don’t even know what my favourite word is,
but I know that I hate the sound of an ‘almost’
it sounds like someone who
came to the brink of an epiphany
let it unravel deep from the intestines and slither along his throat,
but let it sit on the tip of his tongue
and carried it around until
his mouth became heavy and sodden
and he almost choked
failed to see how beautiful it was,
so he crafted a word for it

When I write, I write about
the thoughts I have been hurriedly making notes of, in the middle of a crowded room
trembling with the pulsating electronic beats and
punctuated with small talk
weirdly moist with the sweat and hormones of young adults
my blurry vision not helping me tap away
any faster on my phone screen
but that’s in the past
I don’t write about memoirs of the past,
or the future or the present
memoirs are for property owners,
I let my thoughts sink in deeper and further into the archives under my skin,

So now I’m not writing anything
or scandalous
or political
or drunk and disorderly in-the-middle-of-the-night
I am trying to write poetry that can be sung out into the night,
occasionally interrupted with swigs taken from a wine glass
I am trying to fill a room with a compressing loud silence
between the words “you” and “I”
I am trying to construct something, that feels like a cafe
easy to walk into
and difficult to leave
I am trying to translate sheet music and decipher theatrical plays
I want a standing ovation,
I want a flower bouquet flung at my feet
I am striving to start a revolution with the noise of a scratching nib and a blank paper…

you have been warped to an aggressive extent
you watch
yachts set sail into the salty oblivion without the feeling of remorse
you collect fallen flowers and press them in your books
you like the smell of tea leaves
and blush when you’re reminded of when we were together,
a white room and the curtain fluttered
returning thoughts to the flare of the lights at the concert
suddenly being aware of how a touch feels like

I am trying to say that
you and I are creatures of comfort,
creatures of habit
we find happiness in banality–
the crook of an arm
a nudge
the rush of blood
we let just about anything pin us down
while I have been scribbling away all this nonsense
I haven’t stopped thinking about how I can’t write
but now,
I am too afraid to pause–
it will make this paper blotchy,
I am too petrified of altering something that exists in perfect harmony inside my mind,
because even though I don’t write news reports
or gossip columns
or messages written on scraps of paper,
I could make versions of things that don’t exist
but I guess I could let that slide
at least for now

Vani Ghai is a third year medical student and the author of her poetry book Honey in a Marmalade Jar.

Featured image credit: Mediamodifier/Pixabay