“What My Neighbor Left Behind” by Aditya Tiwari and “The Kettle” by Pallavi Singh

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In this deeply thought-out poem, Aditya Tiwari wonders what the absence of someone you know looks like. Sometimes it could sound like a song in the rain. At other times, every memory they leave behind, could be reduced to nothing, is nothing but dust.

What my neighbor left behind

The day she died

The day she died she left behind

Four dead flowers in a vase, two fresh newspapers,

An old television, a refrigerator,

Pearl necklaces, a box of gold bracelets,

Perfume bottles, a pack of Virginia slims,

The shadow of yesterday, his smile,

The absence, like a song in the rain.

What she left behind was just enough

fill – the empty parts in it

abandoned house.

If we were to come back

to the way we were

If all we’ve lost

all our lives had to come back

Our faces would be enlightened

across a long river.

Every day in a hurry

in a grain, a petal.

Every memory, nothing,

is nothing but dust.

But remember that the mouth

of the open river without

the rain – is a blue prayer,

Breathless, on the face of a stranger.

While many poets travel the world to find the right words, to find their inspiration, Pallavi Singh finds his subject within his kitchen. She sees the world in her kettle “where ambition and hunger mix / like coffee beans in water”.

Kettle

In my house

the kitchen is a neglected space

there are toasters and ovens and a kettle

microwave and steamer and barbecue

slow cooker, cutting board, knives

but this is the kettle that I use every day.

Ferocious, content,

initiated at a boiling point

a boiling cauldron where ambition and hunger mingle

like coffee beans in water.

He makes my coffee with ease,

not like my mother taught me

because it takes minutes when

my patience allows seconds.

For every drop that I drink

my impatience defines the course –

strong for the one who gave me the kettle

black for those who wanted me pure

bitter for those who said I must know how to cook.

A million brewed coffees every morning

in angry, fickle and raging kettles

when the world rushes to work,

and I return to the boiler in me.


(Aditya Tiwari is a poet and gay rights activist. His debut poetry collection April is Lush (2019) received international acclaim. Read more about him on Instagram and Twitter at @aprilislush.)

(Pallavi Singh is a UK-based bilingual writer, journalist and poet who received an Irish Arts Council Fellowship for her writing. She is currently training as a business historian at a UK university and is part of the senior management .from a London-based e-commerce startup. She tweets @econhistorian.)


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