My mother’s history excluded me. But it wasn’t all bad.

There were bits and bobs of pity and kindness tossed

like old bread to a starving street dog.

Now they dot my mind. Fugitive stars on a moon-bright night.

Green-white was the colour of her favourite flower,

turned waxy yellow when ripe with perfume. It hid

itself among the leaves, letting its secret out only

through its jackfruit-scent in the gloaming.

I caught the heady whiff, and lapped it up

like a thirsty but alert rodent before the shattered jug.

That flower never bloomed for me. It never knew me.

I knew it though, like I knew the distant sun.


A strand of sunlight combs my salt-pepper hair. I close

my eyes and reach out for a pair of hands. My heart

inhales from its cup. The bustle of academia fans the air.

Nothing remotely floral here. Except for this tenderness.

This ease of ownership. Stolen flower-scent fades

into mist. “Let go,” the hands say. “Let go. Let go.”


A helium-filled balloon lifts up, and disappears

into the deepening blue. The evening star gives me

its unblinking stare. The bell-chime

of a now grown-up child’slaughter settles around me

like a doll’s crinoline skirt. The dust of the past

blows away like smoke through the window.

All is quiet and in repose, except for the coiling fragrance

of a flower clotting into a bead of blood in my heart.



A moth shares my table, roosting

between the water jug

and a cutlery stand full

of mismatched forks and spoons.

Tiny feathery tufts on the back

of its head rise like airplane vanes.


The slow fan’s greasy blades sift

dust, shift air, a ladleful

at a time. Sunlight riding on dust

has touched

small parts of this room. But the moth

needs shadow with just a frill

of sun. Somehow this day will

pass for it. As it will for me.


Maybe today is the last day

of its life. What has it achieved? Does it care

like I do? I am wary

of shadows. As moths are

wary of light. But that never

stopped one from rushing out.

We are a pair of strange room mates

sharing a newspaper and a coffee,

united by solitude.


An hour later the moth is dead –

a piece of broom sweep, adrift

in a corner where dust bunnies graze

on more dust. The moth is now nothing

but an exaggerated dust mote. And, I am

here. Exactly where I was before. Still

unable to claim my day.