Two Poems by Bharti Bansal

Animals in love

It starts with a tiny realisation of adulthood that everything around us is a tapestry of failed
efforts in love

Otters hold hands while sleeping
But a cuckoo never sees her own children again

Love, I suppose, is just another excuse for pain

Do parrots close their eyes when they kiss?

I think the only way to love is to push someone off the edge with the promise that land is nothing
but an arthritic sky
I have been in free fall ever since
Waiting for ground to engulf me like a golf ball

Yesterday I read that male sea horses bear their children
While queen bees kill the drones just after they have sex

Which is just a scientific way to romanticize dying in love
The first time your lover gifts you a diamond shaped necklace,
You try to hide it from your mother
But the next day, you wear it like a rebellion
Similar to how tigers kill each other just to be chosen by a tigress
The irony of being an animal in love is that it’s always a competition, a do or die combat
So the first time your lover gifts you a flower, you keep it in the pages of the book  made from
the lonely tree that grew miles away from the forest
Love is special that way, like fingerprints found in a crime scene that your body becomes
You know you will be dead anyway
The gentleness of a lover’s touch, like road maps drawn on body, begins with questions waiting
to be answered
At a distance far enough to be called a silly mistake, but close enough for intimacy

Do you know that crowns of some trees in forest never touch each other, always at an atomic
gap, waiting for the light to enter through the spaces, a foreplay of nature

Your lover calls you for the first time as you lower your voice to a shy whisper because isn’t
love supposed to be silent?
Your voice trembles like an alarm bell, but there is never a good time to wake up
And when you both meet, like melting glaciers, you witness how warmth feels like on a cold day

Penguins, when fall in love, gift their partners a stone they deem perfect after searching it for
many days

Isn’t love about leaving souvenirs behind?
Your lover gives you a t-shirt which you will wear in the coming days
Like a flag erected on the highest mountain, a symbol for proclaiming presence
Years pass by like a smooth breeze, you grow together in the most childish ways which is to say
that you have started smiling a lot
And just when you believe that love in humans and animals is similar,

You learn that some albatrosses can live years without coming to land and meeting their
partners and when they do, they always come back to the only partner they ever chose

You don’t recall the last time your lover looked at you with loving eyes

But you wait
Because in some species of animals, waiting is a form of love
And you have never dared to think about separation

Because sometimes two parrots in love can die of broken heart if separated

And the last time you studied weird human facts, you learnt about broken heart syndrome which
mimics a heart attack
You are too afraid of dying
And once you choose love, you spend the rest of your life escaping it.


There are days when you are reminded of the colossal failure you are in a world
Which has recently heard what a black hole sounds like
You remind yourself that there is still a voice which hides in the middle of the chest right where your
lungs are supported by a muscle to prevent them from collapsing
Isn’t every chance of being known the same as realising that there is nothing more frightening than
being heard
Especially when everyone around is wary of your inherent ability to make words which question as much
as they plead
You walk on egg shells of your father’s temper
And your mother’s constant pleas to not disappoint him
Your sister warns you of the dangers of losing to fear
Which is just another way of saying that you have disappointed one more person in the world
Your body has developed a habit of shivering so much so that it becomes difficult to stand
People think it’s cold that is affecting you, probably causing you to run for warmth
They ask you if you are ill, or battling any disease which puts you in the same room as fighters and
But nobody ever asks you about the absence of Goosebumps on your frail body
Or how sweat is drenching your favourite top
No signs of losing your breaths to impending dangers of being seen with such transparency
That you end up looking at yourself
You count the number of times you hid yourself under the blanket
And realise it is the only thing you can remember now
Or the number of times your father sighed so loud that you could see the wounds of your presence still
clutching him by the throat

There is just no one way to let go
So you notice the wrinkles around your mother’s eyes and the trails of tears that have dried up on her
face, like second skin
You realise that silence is same as miscommunication
And your home donns it every time they notice the humanness of your fearful choices
You start learning that by thirty, everything will be less painful,
Your father’s eyes
Your mother’s constant fear of losing you
It is the least of the hopes you have gathered for yourself; sometimes that is another way you have
learnt to punish yourself
By remembering that there is always a place ready to be occupied
That perhaps you are there too
And somebody is waiting for you to go
Isn’t it how the universe maintains balance
Or the happiness theory sustains
You teach yourself to cry a lot more than you can
Because you had read how every tear you shed was a smile given to the one who needed it the most
You tell your mother about spreading happiness these days
Or how everything is done to sustain the unstable equilibrium
The reason your sister was born as light to your shadow
The choice your father made to distance himself
All the deaths make sense to you now,
Or dying as a metaphor for life, life as metaphor for moving on
All this revolution has been making you dizzy
And there is nobody to tell you why it’s okay to stand still
So you learn to scream in pulsating waves of agony
Slowly remembering that the black hole in the centre of our galaxy was never silent
That the sound needs medium as long as one shows willingness to hear it
That there is nothing as haunting as hearing a dead star making noise to show how it’s still present

That your shadow is yours as long as something else shines
And you can never be the one to bend light into happy memories
You learn how things turn ugly when you are going to be 25
25 and dependent
But that’s not how you tell your mother about dreading future
You say how technology has advanced, you tell her how sound can be amplified to be heard, you play
the haunting tune of the biggest black hole in Perseus galaxy
You teach her that the meaning of Perseus is “destroyer”
You whisper how you have seen yourself become one
You take her hand, and place it above your heart
“Mother you hear this throbbing pain don’t you?
Mother I have spent enough years of life to hate myself.
Mother the only way I can hurt myself is by living.
Of all the blackness of this universal void, I have found one that describes me.
See. Right here is where it is the heaviest. The abysmal noise. Right here is where it lives, a vacuum of
your smile, father’s twinkle of eyes. This is where I remind myself that I am alive. Even in my sorrows.
Even after my body withers. This is where you will find me. In the trenches of fabric of your
motherhood. I lived here to see it bend. I will live here to see it come back to life.”

The Poet: Bharti Bansal

Bharti is a 24-year-old student from India. Her works have been published in magazines like
Aaduna,, the sunflowers collective, two drops of ink, Livewire India,
Feminism in India and is forthcoming in the anthology ,”the yearbook of Indian poetry”. She
lives in a small village surrounded by mountains and find solace in poetry and stars.

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