we return to our room for cups of black tea
to find your message:
i am dying, LOL
and the day feels still, hotter than it was;
my breakfast, idli and curry, dark grapes and water,
feels dead in my belly.
each time, it becomes harder,
each time, easier;
one day you will disappear.
we stir sugar into our cups,
but that is the way here;
we are so far away from you.
we write back with jokes and you say
you will live to see us;
my heart softens, melts into my tea.
I take in the day, watch a squirrel
run madly across a neighbour’s hot roof,
the sway of the banana tree.
I breathe in the frangipani by our door,
hear the fan rattle warm air
around our room;
the azan breaks my thinking,
to accept things, as they are.
nothing but green around us,
wind through the trees like the crash of waves,
red dust settled after rain.
ripe papaya, the colour of watermelon,
left for birds and palm squirrels;
chunks of rice seized by tiny animal hands,
scurried away to eat under cover.
yesterday, huge brown leaves crackled
across dry ground;
a monitor lizard, a huge sweeping broom,
and later, a rat snake, its patterned length, a journey;
the sound of macaques in the distance,
branches swaying with their weight.
Thilak built our room himself,
amid the forest, trees in a line to protect it
from monkey visitors;
they don’t eat from these, he says,
and tells us the story of building here.
I will not kill any more of my nature, he whispers,
as he notices a hornbill,
points its black-and-white out in the trees,
then a squirrel’s call;
a warning against a snake.
Lisa Reily is a former literacy consultant, dance director and teacher from Australia. Her poetry has been published in several journals, such as Amaryllis, London Grip, The High Window, Panoplyzine, Channel Magazine, and The Fenland Reed. You can find out more at lisareily.wordpress.com