I. Happiness is sunny side up
My dad loves a perfect sunny side up. I look out of the window at the trees from the house I am in. I am isolated and sustaining kindness in myself by making perfect sunny side up eggs everyday. I make two of them today. Somedays, I taste acerbic memory in my mouth. Other days, I dissect the sun of its glow and hold it by the pale rim. It bleeds into my heart like the ochre yellow of a runny spoonable yolk. I wonder how genetic codes untangle from each other to make us who we are. I murmur to myself as I heat the pan. Just like my mom. I am no longer impatient with my husband for wanting them cooked in exact circles.
II. Happiness is upright stalks
My mom always gathers random flowers on her walks. She watched over her garden like a hawk. Her home always so proud with vases tucked away in every corner, filled with bullrushes, and zinnias, sweet peas and wildflowers. I gather this moment as if it may not be here tomorrow. I capture it both on my phone and inside of me. With my fingers I touch the flowers as if they are watching me like my mother had watched over me as a child, being both my wish and my prayer. Like her flower arrangements, they nod absentmindedly, almost habitually as if dusting off their own pollen. It is dusk. I look away before the blue of the sky starts to sear and insist on settling into my eyes. My aqueous humor always at the edge of dripping like the water in mom’s ikebana vases. I hustle towards the railroad. I like balancing on the railway tracks and hearing her say, your spine should always be an upright stalk, girl. I harvest her voice, and press the flowers.
III. Happiness is a bird’s song
My children are just a phone call away. We talk about things to do and things we have done. From a distance, they walk me through their lives. Like a garage sale, I look around curiously at their knick and knacks wondering which one I can bring away at a bargain price and they would not even notice. Outside, it is all normal like a scene from a train window - the blooming sky, the nip in the air, the trees turning pale. It is not until I look at the neatly assembled family of ducks striding along the lake that I begin to cry. I trust the lyric of the forlorn bird that sings to river waves. In the same way I would hum an ordinariness to them, when my children were young and still liked lullabies and warm milk. I listen to the queg-queg-que of the magpie and hear myself falling through the trap door of her song.
IV. Happiness is time and tide
My life just like all of ours is now a stillness. Still in the same place. Still stilled. Still deep and shallow, still. Droning alongside, time is leaving behind messages of being fine. It rings in the day and brings in the night. Teaching us to be thankful we are alive, and learning the uses of hydroxychloroquine. The sun still rises and scenes still get created, recreated with babies and dogs on walks, with parents wearing N-95 masks. It is okay or will be soon, and everyone thinks it is charming to be alive, still. I write a few more poems for another anthology. It is humbling that editors are still reading about time and tide. Words are still undying.
Kashiana Singh lives in Chicago and embodies her TEDx talk theme of Work as Worship into her everyday. Her poetry collection, Shelling Peanuts and Stringing Words presents her voice as a participant and an observer. Her chapbook Crushed Anthills is a journey through 10 cities – a complex maze of remembrances to unravel. Her poems have been published on various platforms including Poets Reading the News, Visual Verse, Oddball Magazine, Café Dissensus, TurnPike Magazine, Inverse Journal. Kashiana is the winner of the 2020 Reuel International Poetry Award. She lives in Chicago and carries her various geographical homes within her poetry.