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A Poem of Hiraeth by Shirley Lalrinfeli

Art by Rohan Rathod

Home is never really home without you.

It's just an empty box of wood and concrete, stones and glass.

The foundation breaks at the slightest wind.


It falls apart. Crumbles.

The photograph that used to stand on that mantelpiece, a plethora of hues,

And that smile that goes back seventy years

Is nothing but an empty cardboard frame

With nothing but a sepia-tinted, monochromatic image.


The Welsh talk of "Hiraeth".

I can't fathom the profundity of it-

A homesickness, a longing,

For a home and for the lost,

For the Departed

That freely roam the Cold Land of the Dead.

They're a sentimental folk, the Welsh.

Always ready to come up with words like that.

So much feeling conveyed in so few syllables.

I could write on paper worth a full forest

And not express even half of my longing,

For this home that can never be.

Which once was.

Which has fallen apart.

The earth keeps on spinning, revolving.

The sun rises, twelve hours crawl by

And there's so much work.

So much to be done.

So little time to lose.

Because you only get so many years here.

That's what your life has taught me.

Then this small wooden box, this structure,

Goes dark.

The fireflies are at it again,

Dancing down by the marsh.

Such show-offs, those tiny creatures.

And they don't realise how insignificant, how fragile

they really are.

Paper-winds, paper bodies-

Their only redeeming quality is their bioluminescence.

The bed is cold and empty,

Pale clouds drift by.

The moon gradually traverses across the dark sky,

Inch by inch.

In the distance, a rooster crows.

That's how I know morning is approaching.

The sun will rise again in three hours.

It will set again, as always, in twelve.

And the world will go on,

And the fireflies will die one day,

And this house will never be home again.

The person in that photograph I may never see again.

But my life will continue.

About the artist:

Rohan Rathod is a practising advocate from Pune who paints in his free time. He is mainly a portrait painter. You can follow him on Instagram @advrohanrathod

1 Comment

Waters Charlie
Waters Charlie
Jun 12

This moving poetry captures the deep anguish of hiraeth, expressing a feeling of loss and desire for a home that once was. The poet uses vivid imagery and contemplative meditation to traverse the challenges of memory, death, and the passage of time with deep emotional impact. coreball

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