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Poetry | 'What My Neighbour Left Behind' By Aditya Tiwari And 'The Kettle' By Pallavi Singh

Aditya Tiwari wonders what the absence of someone you know feels like while Pallavi Singh finds her subject within her kitchen.

Poetry | 'What My Neighbour Left Behind'  By Aditya Tiwari And 'The Kettle' By Pallavi Singh
Of death and loss | Image for represntation | Getty
Poetry | 'What My Neighbour Left Behind' By Aditya Tiwari And 'The Kettle' By Pallavi Singh
outlookindia.com
2021-10-24T16:41:29+05:30

In this deeply thoughtful poem, Aditya Tiwari wonders what the absence of someone you know feels like. Sometimes it could feel like a song in the rain. At other times each memory they leave behind, could be squeezed, into nothing, is nothing, but dust.

What My Neighbour Left Behind  

The Day That She Died   

The day that she died she left behind  

Four dead flowers in a vase, two fresh newspapers,  

An old television, a refrigerator,  

Pearl necklaces, a box of gold bangles,  

Perfume bottles, a pack of Virginia slims,  

Yesterday’s shadow, her smile,  

The absence, like a song in the rain.   

 

What she left behind was only enough  

to fill - the empty rooms in her  

abandoned house.  

If we were to go back  

to the way we used to be  

If everything we’ve lost  

all our lives were to return  

Our faces would be bright-lit  

across a long river.  

Each day, squeezed  

into a grain, a petal.  

Each memory, into nothing,  

is nothing, but dust.  

But remember, that the mouth  

of the open river without  

the rain - is a blue prayer,  

Breathless, on a stranger’s face.  

 

 

While many poets travel around the world to find the right words, to find their inspiration, Pallavi Singh finds her subject within her kitchen. She sees the world within her kettle ‘where ambition and hunger mix/ like coffee beans in water’.  

The Kettle 

In my home 

kitchen is a neglected space 

there are toasters and ovens and kettle 

microwave and steamer and the barbeque 

the slow cooker, the chopping board, the knives 

but it’s the kettle I use every day. 

Fierce, contained, 

primed to a boiling point 

a scalding cauldron where ambition and hunger mix 

like coffee beans in water. 

It makes my coffee the easy way, 

not the way my mother taught me 

because that takes minutes when 

my patience allows seconds. 

For every drop I drink, 

my impatience defines the course — 

strong for the one who gifted me the kettle 

black for those who wanted me pure 

bitter for those who said I must know cooking. 

A million coffees brewed every morning 

in angry, un-abiding, storming kettles 

when the world rushes out to work, 

and I return to the boiler within me. 


(Aditya Tiwari is a poet and gay rights activist. His first book of poems April is Lush (2019) received international acclaim. Learn more about him on Instagram and Twitter at @aprilislush.)

(Pallavi Singh is a bilingual writer, journalist and poet based in the UK, and has been awarded a grant from the Irish Arts Council for her writing. She is currently training as a business historian at a UK university and is part of the core leadership of an ecommerce startup based in London. She tweets @econhistorienne.) 

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