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Winter Solstice by Riddhi Dastidar

Yesterday it was the Winter Solstice

I found out today when I came in to work.

Yesterday I left you at mid-day,

midway into the shortest day of the year.

Before that the light fell just so,

and so were the cats sitting in symmetry,

and so were we,

and I didn’t even have to ask

your roommate to take the picture I begged off her later

for my phone-screen.

Easy devotion, modern romance.

We spent most of the shortest day together,

if you count 2 am when you returned,

knackered witless from work, me still writing

and I didn’t even have to ask

you for the Very Useful Observations you made

reading it through, thorough, thoughtful.

Then we sank into bed, eyes already closing,

goodnight kissing,

so relieved to be at rest,

that we fell into hastily fastening the door.

I have a question, you said,

pulling off my pyjamas, your face on my stomach:

Will nothing stop us?

We fell asleep on the last edges of dark.

Early on in the longest night

I come over; it is only 10.

And when I turn from fastening the door,

you are already retreating

stone-faced, cleaning-spray in hand -- the cat has shit the floor again.

Then the pizza is delayed, and too much cinnamon falls in

when I make drinks. While eating, you doggedly pursue a subject I’d rather forget.

And somehow the memory-book from your last love --

the one you said I’d never see is lying outside and you decide

to peruse it, point out parts.

Feels wrong

to be looking at evidence of a love

whose demise is the only reason I’m sitting beside you now

looking at evidence of a love.

You turn the last page, and unwillingly I glimpse

an ‘I love you’ in your slanting scrawl.

Both our ears are burning.

You go to kiss me but I duck and switch on the telly.

Then I want to talk and you can’t bear the rapid switching

so you snap, and I’m hurt.

Retreat into silence halfway between sulk-and-sad.

You know I’m not happy, but fumble to fix it

and I don’t know either how to put in words

the particular sadness of your making me sad --

stupid small thing, first-time-happening.

When you come to bed I’m wide awake and you’re tired.

I remember something I wrote for you

but it’s too late and now is not the moment.

There isn’t any sex, and everything is just wrong

in this never-ending night of small disasters.

Maybe Mercury is in retrograde.

Maybe it’s the moon

doing something strange with the tides.


Loving is like this.

Really, real love is .

And the morning after may hold more small upsets --

I’ll pay attention to the cat instead of you telling about a favourite show;

you’ll pull a face when I’m trying to explain my depression -- and

we are inching closer, and

I love you, and

Winter Solstice is over.

I found out today when I came in to work.

Follow Riddhi's work here.

Follow Janhavi's art here.


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