By: Raj Ratan Mala
Chrysanthemums On Her Grave
Spine made up of porcelain tucked under a corset dress
Lipstick overlined for a DIY smile – a womanly drug to cure distress,
“Tuck a chrysanthemum behind your ears, that’s the king’s favourite”
Her nectar was to be served to overthrow the Empress.
They were tired of the rags so they had a pretty daughter
Let her waist clasp her spine so she doesn’t end up with a commoner.
Stitched her lips shut to allure the eyes of the connoisseur
‘Till one day the either side of the royal bed was hers.
“Oh Josephine, all these years…where have you been?”
Her pupils dilate to get a glimpse of true love as he holds her closer by her chin,
“All these domains, but you feel like a real win”
Words always got saccharine behind that satiny canopy when he’s in a hurry to be touching her skin.
Bedazzled by the glamorous shades of gold on her crown
Gold alloy isn’t hefty enough but still weighed her down,
Roleplaying the dream play of every little girl living in the outskirts of town,
“I’ll play the princess!” “-no, me!”- it’s about the rubies and sapphires for love is nothing but a noun.
A filthy deal, skin for stones,
New smell of chrysanthemums can empty a throne,
The porcelain spine was still marrow and bone
“Oh Josephine, don’t you ever dare cross the outskirts alone”
Chrysanthemums desiccating on the queen’s dresser kept near her untouched crown,
As is love, so is fear just a noun,
For how long could a girl in breeches be wrapped in some ball gown?
-“Your Majesty! little girls have witnessed a colleen on a horse in the outskirts of town”
“Mom, tell us another story!
And no fairy tales, we’re not tiny kids.”
“Oh there’s one, about a runaway prince,
Who ran away from his kingdom of celestial beings”
-“He had amethyts for eyes
Disguised as brown aventurine,
Crystal balls and there was a clairvoyant
In which she crystal-gazed future past her bedtime.”
“Did he have horns?!”
“No sweetheart, but lustrous hairs that could cobweb any heart so sublime”
“Wait! I just have one heart though!!!”
“And that’s why dad asks you not be awake past nine.”
“He sang instead of speaking
Every word was a seraphic hymn,
Pages of her journal are his biography,
Where he exists and she knits it into a rhyme.”
-“And she prays to God for a single glance
For she knew for sure, he once believed in true romance”,
“Oh, here we go again. Another princess?”
“Just a commoner, who believed in the ambiguity of a single chance”
“But there was destiny, he finally knew that maiden would be his queen”
“How old was the prince then?”
“Oh..he was fifteen; believe in the fate of chances, my dear,
it took more than a decade for someone to look at the amethysts through the green aventurine.”
“From the dilation of his pupil to what they’d call skin to skin,
Little do they know, their souls never collided through epidermis”
“So they fell in love, mom?”
“Ah, love…they fell into each other, deeper than any love confined to a kiss”
“This doesn’t sound any lesser than a myth!”
“Oh let me prove it to you, they together turned out to become astonishing goldsmiths,
Together, they conceived two most beautiful ornaments to ever exist”
“Oh I know your line! Now you’ll go, ‘and they lived happi-“
“Oh no…their story never ends,
A rhyme she still knits everyday to a very new extent
But now she’s also a narrator,
Narrating the tales from her journal to those delicate ornaments”.
“When he was fifteen, he smelled like hyacinths during springtime,
She was never a poet, words to describe him impulsively rhymed”
“And what about them turning sixteen?!”
“Oh sweetheart, keep that story for later, it’s already past your bedtime!”.
Love Notes For Bookmarks
Her curious fingertips sweeping the
dust while examining cobwebbed
Indeed she was the only visitor in
decades except of the bats, souls and
The creak of the wooden floor as she
walks in the slowest pace
The pupils of her amber eyes dilate as
she gazes at every dusty bookcase.
Empty chairs, barren tables clothed
with a layer of dust
The cold creaky staircase and antiqu
fountain pens skinned with a blanket of
In the prettiest shade of blue, they
For the moonlight had crept in from a
little crack in the skylight.
Silence never felt as musical as such;
Where once murmurs weren’t
welcomed, now had no one to hush,
Heaps and pyramids of smoky books
lay deserted on her way,
With those pages that once used to
smell like coffee beans cooked in a fine
vessel of clay..
Between a million tales, a quarter million
heartbreaks, a few thousand “and they
lived happily ever after’s”
Decades ago, laid an unwritten love-story
at the same spot that belonged to her
Those wrinkled hands had once-
mistaken to hold the same book at the
Those red-rimmed eyes hold the
memory of glancing through the shelf
the eyes of her favourite crime.
Some novels remain unfinished, waiting
for a second part;
Similar was her unwritten love-story
buried under a million books with her
Decades passed, heartbreaks prevailed,
People are in love but the romance can
But the incomplete yet unending love-
story of two young souls will always
“Argh! Endings are a myth, okay?”
“And they lived happily ever after”- in his blue tee, he did read this out
But skipped the “the end” scribbled in bold Baskerville font on the last page reminding me it doesn’t count,
The day I was born into his missis, he vowed – “Ends come to those stories that vow for bond till death pulls them apart”
Assuring me that widows aren’t born but maidens-in-wait after a dreadful bombard.
From the haribo ring to the wedding one, I wasn’t his first and neither his last,
The unfilled scars on his skin showed the soldier’s love for nation that always surpassed.
“I would take a bullet for my true love” – was his first and only oath carved on my promise ring,
And then deserted me with his biggest lie with not even a kiss goodbye, telling me he’d be back by spring.
All I know is he might’ve stood with his chin up and chest out in front of the point of that gun like a seven year old boy scout,
And when the bullet perforated his chest fountaining the blood out, I wonder if it’s me who he thought about,
But the smile on his pale lips said otherwise; that looked like the one he had every time the future of the nation flashed in front of his eyes
The smile that might’ve sent shiver down the spine of the one who pulled the trigger thrice after he died.
He promised that he’d take a bullet for his true love – he didn’t hesitate,
And when that bullet pierced through his sternum, marked the birth of another maiden-in-wait.
As the blood cemented down his veins, he grasped the hope for a sunrise with no shackles in his clenched fist,
And gave up the ‘living happily ever after part’ of our story just like reading out the “the ends” that he always missed-
My love died for a love that has now been dismissed,
He died for a nation that still doesn’t exist.