I will soften like the light of morning: three poems by Tania De Rozario

A Hundred Ways To Say Your Name

I avoid speaking your name in conversation,
throwing it to the air as if it were nothing
more than an assumption of you; it is my last
mode of defence. The last item of clothing
to discard before I realise I’m naked in public.

Because they can hear it in my voice. I know.
Even in that one short syllable that means
everything and nothing; your name is as common
as you are rare. As easy as you are not.
As simple as love should be, but never is.

But when I’m alone, I tie my tongue softly
round the familiar sound, as if pronouncing
with conviction the phonetics of desire
will cause time to pause just long enough
for the earth to hear me naming my loss.

Without You

Before we parted, she told me this: she believed
we were soulmates, that in our next life, we would meet

again. I wanted to tell her that I knew nothing of this
next life she spoke of, and little of this current life

we seemed to be fucking up, that all I understand is
now-­‐the weight of the nod compelled by something

outside oneself: Yes, we say. I give in, we say. I will soften
like the light of morning, remember how it felt waking up

to love. I wanted to tell her that I don’t know if I believe
in easy tomorrows, am doubtful even more of second

chances for those who throw first chances away. What I do
know: we will watch years form lines across our faces;

that in your absence, I understand death, understand that
we are nothing more than fossils pressed together

by emergency; that I want more than anything
to write you poetry while I am able; not risk re-­‐birth

into a body whose heart is a knot tangled in the guts
of language; that even as you break us open like an

unkept promise, I will not watch my life go on without you.

The First Face You Saw

I wanted mine to be the first face you saw
coming out of surgery: lingering at the mouth
of the operating theatre. I imagined blood
as I waited; bodies at the mercy of discerning
hands, cut open by strangers. I remember
you recounting biology lessons, dissecting
an animal and the humbling truth of its insides
for the first time. “Everything fit perfectly”. We

do not collapse into each like that, the way
lovers should. You are open like the best
endings, I am a conclusion wound tight around
secrets: Words left over from the last time
I loved. You are right: I find no beauty
in the everyday, in leaves coaxed by gravity
to ground, in the symmetry between soil
and sky. You should know by now: I write

because I cannot connect, cannot marry
miracle to matter, metaphor to meaning,
head to heart: This anesthesia I am under
will not wear off like love, drugs, this thing
that is us: Yet still, I wait. Will breathe
again as your body is rolled back towards
mine: You are mine, if only for now. Slipping
out of sleep: Let my face be the first you see.

I will soften like the light of morning: three poems by Tania De Rozario

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