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Apr 28
I’ve lost count of the weeks.
Grief has made its own calendar.
The pandemic stopped what ambition started
I surrender.

4th March 2020:

My mother has died
I can't close my eyes tonight
not because I am afraid of falling asleep
but of waking up in a tomorrow
where she does not exist.
Behold, the audacity!
I never accepted night,
and still, the sun creeps up
across the jagged Tokyo skyline
ascending the tower ladder,
bouncing off windows,
pushing apart curtains
pouring in from all crevices
as the city flips up
person by person,
onto its stuporous hustle,
as if nothing happened.

Amazing Grace:

A million poems came to hold up my heart
as it fell apart
in my mother's death
I had prepared for this moment,
but what preparations suffice,
when air is wrenched away from breath?
I could write the saddest lines,
sadder than Neruda's
but the tales of her glory
have a more engaging story
to tell.
What would she have said
when she saw herself tagged
in her obituary?
she always counted the likes
and read the comments I receive,
rejoicing momentarily,
in what, she claimed, was borrowed fame.
And now I grieve.
My frantic efforts to capture screenshots
whenever we face-timed,
so I could hoard
her presence.
Oh, bless her essence!
even though her skin-clad bones
had lost the cushion of flesh,
even though the bruit
of the fistula in her left arm terrified me
like a constant 'low-battery' signal,
when she managed to hug me, breathlessly,
that last time,
it was an exchange
of the most amazing grace:
her pain wrapped in patience,
mine in gratitude.

Retrospecti­ve Realizations:

And suddenly,
I remember all the condolence messages I have ever written
and retrospectively fill them
with feel, only now revealed to me.
My best compassion and empathy paled in comparison
to this reality.
Death is inevitable; mortality, inescapable.
but life,
with its enticing persistence to carry on,
is cruel.

The poem ends but the pain doesn't:

The real mourning starts
when the visitors leave
and the phone calls end
and the messages stop pouring in,
when you have to resume living
but the dead can't un-die.


Arshia Qasim
Written by
Arshia Qasim
   Jim Musics
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