Of that Old Pain

after Ocean Vuong

How do you kiss mouths where
Words are festering deprivation?

Because word upon word upon word
Can make a poem, but it cannot make a heart.

Because a heart swelling under an indifferent gaze
Is a prisoner of the bullet that grazed it.

Because I don’t feel a thing when a plant dies
As a prisoner held by an incomplete thought of patience.

Because a night contoured blue at the edges
Is going to die in a mine-infested water.

Because the most beautiful thing about love
Exists at the cusp of what it would be.

Because memory is not a carousel of absences
Tethered to a love that withered as an almost.

Because an almost is nothingness as a wound
Growing on you as a gaping expanse of all human frailties

Nuzhat Khan is a student of Convergent Journalism at AJK Mass Communication Research Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia. She is from Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. For Nuzhat, poetry is the most honest form of emotional expression, as well as a lonely endeavour.