I started writing this at the peak of the third wave in 2021, when everyday brought with it the name of someone no longer with us.
We have lost
My mother writes down names
of everyone who’s passed
on since last year
These times are the strangest
to now; lists to aid mourning
more deaths than grocery trips
Our friends are losing their parents
our parents are losing their friends
we are losing our friends
What can I say to make it less?
soundless nothing words
sepulchre for a throat
There is no getting used to grief
in compound form
loss upon loss without pause
But here we are. What do you pray for?
Can you still? Breathe in a time of fettered air
enough to write out our lists of love
I’ve been trying to write a poem about my aunt, my fathers’s sister, who passed away on July 21st, 2019.
I can’t quite distill this feeling of having her with us and now not having her with us. Of course everyone dies, but my aunt was someone you could never imagine being extinguished. Her energy was too strong, too vital. To know my aunt was to know a force who swept through spaces and left them keener and sharper. There was nothing Fazila could not do, nothing she was not good at.
More than my mother’s, sometimes, her approval meant everything to me.
Her face is the face I’ll have at 50, at 65. Now I can’t see what I’ll look like beyond that.*
*An edit to this, that dilutes this statement somewhat, I also closely resemble my paternal grandmother who passed away in November last year, from the same kind of cancer that claimed my aunt. There are too many parallels here that I’m not quite ready to countenance.