Ode To A Lightingale
May 10, 2019
As children, our mothers were the centres of our world; we turned to them whenever we needed anything. However, as we grow older, we tend to take our mothers for granted and, for some reason, we find it very hard to say ‘I love you’ to them. And yet, it is important that we tell our mothers how much they mean to us and their importance in our lives. In this beautiful poem, a man is reminiscing about his mother and expressing his love and gratitude towards her. Perhaps, you can make your mom’s day and share it with her on Mother’s Day.
There has to be a way
To say “thank you” and “I love you”.
Write a poem, they said –
But perhaps a present or two will do
What a metaphor cannot –
Perhaps I should do both,
Because for someone who made me realise
How a voice can be so much like a light,
The least I can do is wrap the world
In a metaphor and gift it to you.
I’ve followed that light all my life.
Mute, as you sang to the rain.
You remember? We used to wait together
Through the seasons,
To greet the dark clouds
So you could sip your tea and I my Bournvita
As we watched the city change.
Every morning you’d rise and shine and gleam and glow
And all the world would grow
And I from my bed in my Superman pyjamas
Would yawn and kick around
Preferring the dark arms of slumber.
After these many years, let me tell you
Slumber has laid down its arms and
Suns have grown dark.
I was your good boy, smart boy, strong boy.
So strong, that rivers rolled down my face
When your twinkling eyes shed tears,
So strong, that I had the guts to hide
Behind your dupatta
Through all the rainbows of frequent fears
Of stormy childhood darkness.
There is nothing I would not give up to have back
My own personal lightingale to bring life to my world.
I live alone but I am only lonely when I miss you.
You will never leave me, of that
I am sure;
You will always be there,
Not in this house but within our home.
I know you and I will always be in the same boat,
and you will always set the sail for me.
From all the way here, an ocean away,
I know our bond will last
Until you cannot recognise
My lightest birthmark.
Recently, you sang for me across the continents.
My partner died and you sang
And lit a sunflower in that cemetery.
You’ve always sung,
On life, to death,
And in everything you’ve always found something,
A something truer, purer,
Than a poet like me ever could.
I don’t know – has it gotten any clearer?
Write a poem, they said –
Sisyphus has an easier job.
How do I convey, what should I say,
about something so beyond the physical;
Nothing meta, -physical or -phor
Is promising to work in our favour.
Maybe someday I will learn to word and display
what you mean to me as a mother
But today is not that day.
Because how do I say, “thank you”, to a person
who has given me so much;
how do I say “I love you”, when
love is not enough?
I never told you this, but I was always afraid of the dark.
But maybe you already know it.
Mothers always know everything.
I have never told you a lot of things.
I love you.
You’ve sung it to me a thousand times.
As if I never knew it.
There has to be a way to tell you, even though
You might already know it.
Write a poem, they said.
Maybe the best way to tell you
Isn’t to feel or think or write it
Perhaps the only way to say something
Is to say it.
Aashmika is a writer from Mumbai. She recently completed her MA in Creative Writing from Oxford Brookes University and also has an MA in English Literature from Mithibai College, Mumbai. She is also a belly dancer, which successfully battles her professional introversion. When she isn’t reading or writing prose or poetry, she is watching TV shows. She loves animals, tattoos, nature, and taking pictures of things.
Aashmika is currently working on her first novel (but don’t ask her about it).
Read her articles here.