News of a Death

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When the news that you had died
Came to me on my phone
— a long short message in Sinhala
Miles away, from home —
I stopped where I was walking
Though the traffic around me sped on
And the particles of disturbed dust
Kept circling into the sky, forlon.

That I would never see any more your
Stealthy, steal-worthy eyes,
Calculating for the right moment to
Make away with the least that is offered
And swiftly make it back, the way you’d come
Back, back to the street incline —
That you would be long buried in some unheeded
Corner in a markless hole, before I return again
To come home.

The giant flyover stands yards in front of me
And even when it supports the traffic flow,
During my lifetime, it will totter,
It will threaten to corrode and fall.
Suddenly, all this looks too futile to be true:
Detracted from home, scraping my own shit off my ass
In a bid to make a living — compromising joy,
Comfort, the touch of ease — and of random prodigals
Who steal from your yard, back home.

And my mind weighs heavier than my
Contemplating eyes, and I try to remember
The last time that we met. I find that
I don’t remember, but I do remember way back
One day, when you were so small, how I saved you
From certain death. Had I stayed on — maybe —
Would I have saved you again? Or, is this just
The flawless memory and mind
Inviting me to play that dirty old game
Of being guilty when someone from around is dead?




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