Deeper Than A Lifetime

In response to “The Knife” by Keith Douglas

Keith Douglas describes his poems as “extrospective” meaning that they are focused on external impressions rather than inner emotions. I believe, “The Knife” does not fall into that category and thus intrigues me the most out of all his poems. I would describe “The Knife” as a love poem; a love poem written in the midst of war at the point where dead was most evident. Hence, I believe it is one of the most sincere love poems that could be written. Although it is a love poem, its title is a word associated with danger, hurt and death for which I believe the poem was written for Ying Cheng. Ying Cheng also known as Betty Sze was an elegant Chinese lady who dated Keith during his university days. Unfortunately, her love for Keith was not as deep as his and thus the refusal of his proposal which lead to her being the unrequited love in Keith’s life. “Deeper than a Lifetime” aims to give Keith a second chance at a love that seemed so pure, to tell Betty all the things he wished he did and how differently he would have done things.

 

Dear Betty,

To turn back time and make my choices again,

I wish I could say that I would do everything exactly the same,

But unrequited love is only less painful when compared to once-requited love.

I wouldn’t have loved you as hard.

I wouldn’t have dived into the deep end of the pool just like that.

I would have tried much harder, with more suave to make you fall at your knees for me and my love.

I would have made you shed the sophisticated coat you wore whenever you met me,

The one I knew you wore to mask your true form.

I would not have hid the romantic that I was.

I would not have pretended not to be the simple guy who just wanted you to love him, who took this to be more than just a fling.

I would have took you to feel the breeze in your hair more often and to take long walks in the parks arm in arm, so that you understood the small yet important things in life.

I would have brought you to rooftops to watch the sunsets and sunrises that although were beautiful, weren’t as beautiful as you.

I would have brought you to water bodies to swim so that you could wash away all the uncertainties that you carried on your shoulders, so that you stopped calculating every move before you made them.

I would have ensured that you knew that time stopped when I looked at you, when I was with you.

I would have made sure that my ‘I love you’  s were loud and seductive but could only be heard in the wind as your long black waterfalls danced to its melody.

I would have made sure you thought of me every day without fail, the same way that not thinking of you each day felt like a bad day.

I would have made sure you understood that such selfless, aching love only came once in a lifetime and try to make you more courageous to follow the tune of your beating heart.

I would have made sure that you cried when I had gone to the army and that you sent letters, letters that would have been a small form of remedy and a reminder that you hadn’t forgotten me.

I would have made sure that the next time I saw you, would be as I, with you boldly held in my arms.

I would have made sure that I hadn’t die in a war when I had much more I wanted to say to you, to scream at you, to show you as Keith Douglas.

Don’t say that I am full of regret, because I am not.

It would be easier to forget you entirely,

But I guess I can’t.

My love for you runs deeper than just a lifetime and I can’t

Say goodbye until I have achieved what I truly believe is

Worth living for.

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Heartbreaks

She broke up with him today.

I’ve never seen her so distraught,
So vulnerable like ever before today.
For the very first time, her stubbornness had dissolved into water droplets.

It’s been said time and again
that love is a complicated thing.
There is a certain amount of courage, almost foolishness that makes you put your heart on your sleeves, each time.
Yet, almost like an addiction, I see them throw themselves at the risk.
Repeating the process that has now come to be normal with growing up – heartbreaks.

The thrill of a companion is what drives them most times.
I wish it wasn’t.
It’s a downhill fall if the solution to the hole within was to fill it with the sweet words of a companion.
For why would teeth be plucked out from excessive intake of sugar?

As ladies of a new generation,
I wish we wouldn’t be so vulnerable to societal norms.
I wish we would learn to see that self-worth is the best filling.
I wish we would learn to throw away the items society has thrown in our face to hide our flaws.
I wish we would learn to be comfortable in our own skins.
I wish we would learn to eat and dress for ourselves.
I wish we would learn to never be afraid to let out the warriors in us.
I wish we would learn to see how much more we could be,
if the strength came from within.

An Endless Love For The Sky

I look up at you, while you look down at me.
We’re so far, yet so near.
We stretch across so many countries,
You could say our love is worldwide.

The only problem is that,
We can’t meet in between.
I have too many buildings and roots to hold
While you have clouds and stars which you can’t leave.

Every two days, you send evidence of your misery for
Not being down with me.
Sometimes, when you hurt too much, areas get flooded.
Deep down, I know they are attempts to wash away
The duties I have,
Attempts which deep down you know never will.

Every day when you wake up, you have that golden glow
In your eyes- it’s love at first sight.
For me, it’s love at first light.

When you’re tired and decide to close your eyes,
I still stare at you.
I’m not lying when I say you look wonderful in your
Sleep, almost picture perfect like the night sky you are.

Baby, I hope this love of ours never dies.
It’s known to be sacrificial, yet beneficial.
After all, we hold the World as one.
Now, no matter what,
I wish you always keep that twinkle in your eyes.

It’s what keeps me going.

261115

I hope this isn’t just another story about girl meet boy.
I hope when years have passed and we meet again,
we can honestly tell each other the secrets we held.
That we can confess the quick glances were mutual.

I speak the truth when I say:
I’ve never been more mesmerised by anyone before.
When I see you, time seems to stop.
My heart gets on a roller-coaster ride and
it’s only when you look away and all the blood that rushed to
my head starts to flow back, that
I realise that I’ve missed my chance,
once again.

It wasn’t the looks or the style.
Those came later, I have to admit.

It was the way you looked at me that night, the way you looked into my eyes, and just about every other time after that.
I felt empowered yet vulnerable at the darn same time, it was terrifying.
Still is.
You sparked a curiosity in me like never before and I haven’t
been able to light it out since.

Maybe it’s for selfish reasons that my heart beats this tune,
maybe it isn’t.
What I do know is that I want yours to follow the same tune
but no pressure,
I haven’t mustered up the guts for that yet.

I hope this isn’t just another story about boy meet girl.
I hope when years have passed, you remember me and smile to yourself.
You smile about how the mercurial character of a girl long ago,
confused you yet added a page to your book,
the book we call life.

At The Crossroads

‘Where are you going to go?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘How long are you going to take?’

‘I don’t know.’

The worry in Mother’s eyes was beginning to affect me. It was evident she did not appreciate my lack of answers but I had no answer that would ease her worry.

‘What do you know then?’

‘I know that I am going for a drive and that I shall come back when I am ready to.’

‘Please stay safe and keep in touch every hour.’

I nodded as a reply and walked out the front door. Mother was not one bit willing to let me go but she was aware that I needed a breath from everything.

I walked to the garage, took 3 bottles of fuel, a blanket, the stack of cash I had saved, some clean clothes and began my trip to nowhere. The large green fields slowly turned to large trees and the urban houses turned to large high rises. The familiar strawberry scent in the air was long gone and replaced with a strawberry ash mixed scent. The light blue sky was turning into a gloomy grey one, a great representation of my feelings.

I was not surprised that i had unknowingly driven myself to the city. All my life, I knew that I was meant for it. At night, I would stare at the ceiling pretending that it was the city and would hear it softly but surely calling out to me. Sometimes, I would stare really hard, reality easily faded away.

The only reason why I, such an independent, strong-headed, smart lady stayed in a place that did not go in sync with the rhythm of my heartbeat was because he had stolen my heart. He also happened to be the reason I was moving with no destination on a fast lane. Tom and I knew each other ever since we were in diapers. Our Mothers were best friends and nothing less was expected of us. We did everything together and shared everything. The flowers of our friendship soon blossomed to romance and we soon became the envy of all our friends. This later extended to the whole school. We were prom queen and king, we were voted best couple for all our years in high school and we were voted most expected to get married. I did not care for the fame, I was simply happy being with Tom.

After we graduated, he took me on a surprise road trip to the city. His destination was a mesmerising water-body which went two ways. He had stumbled upon it and knew that I would love such a unique place was nicknamed the crossroads and became a symbol of our love.

A few days ago, the promise was broken, shattered into unrecognisable pieces when I found Tom cheating. It is funny how one can know someone their whole life yet not know them at all. When I found out, I did not shed a single tear, not even a single drop. I had simply returned the ring and left.

Now, I find myself back at the crossroads.

I would be lying if I said I was not hurt but I would also be lying if I said I was surprised. Life is everything but a fairytale and when everything was going so well, I knew somewhere along the line, there would be a problem. It just happened to be a much bigger problem than I ever imagined.

Gazing at the crossroads, I wished for a reset button but none came. My mid-length waves had begun dancing to the melody of the wind before I realised how cold it was. I watched the waves in the water-body hit against each other, creating a beautiful dance. The stars were out when I left the crossroads but immediately when I got into my car and began my drive, I knew it would be my last time here.

My life was going to change and this time I shall be the pilot.

Victoria in Gold

For years, the majestic beauteous painting of Aunt Victoria had hung on our cream walls. It had a large iridescent frame and the painting was made of gold. It was a portrait of Aunt Victoria dressed in an iwis elegant dress. She had no expression but it could easily be mistaken for sadness. Still, she looked very beautiful, a beauty I have longed for, for ages. I had asked the story of how the painting came about multiple times but the topic would always be changed. That was until my dearest Grandmother held me by arms, dragged me to her favourite Victorian styled room, sat me down and began to tell me the story of Victoria in Gold.

In the old days, Aunt Victoria was the finest lady in town. She had long wavy brown hair, a slender figure, pearly white teeth, and an incredulous smile and was beyond voguish. Every woman wanted to be her and every gentleman wanted to marry her. She had many suitor especially young gentlemen from prestigious families but she never fancied them. She treated them like stone on the pavement. They all failed to get her attention except dear Victor.

Victor was an adonis but average nevertheless. His father was a well-known doctor and his mother a caregiver. They led a humble life. He had manners far beyond any royal and a gorgeous smile. He made Victoria feel happy and comfortable in her own skin, something she did not feel often. However, they both knew that they were living a fantasy. They were from far too different classes after all he was a painter with a gardening job at Victoria’s house on the side. They were positive that if their love were to live, they had a tremendous uphill battle to face.

Victor left wonderful paintings week after week addressed to Victoria. They always had a hidden meaning and Victoria could decipher them with just one look. At times, she would laugh upon seeing them and other times she would cry and lock herself up for days at end. Victoria was Victor’s poetry and his pen was his paint brush. Victoria’s parents questioned her about the man sending paintings but she feigned ignorance and they soon became accustomed to the delivery of paintings.

Months passed and Victoria’s room was filled with numerous picturesque paintings. Yet, at the same time, Victoria’s father’s patience was depleting. His greatest wish was to see his only daughter joyfully married. He pleaded with Victoria to find a man she would be blissfully married to but she could not tell him about Victor thus she kept refusing. She did not want him to be rejected before she woke up from the fairy tale love of hers.

For Victoria’s father, days passed like years and he was very aware that his early years were long behind him. He could not take it anymore and thus he got Victoria engaged to one of the finest gentlemen in town. When she heard the news, Victoria uttered “I am not a property in which you may trade for your wish to be fulfilled,” in a calm yet vile
tone.

“This is for your own happiness, you shall be thankful in the future,” replied Victoria’s father in a heartbroken manner.

Just like that, the topic was concluded. Victoria had too much respect to overturn her father’s command or even protest more than she had done which left her torn, as she felt she was betraying her love for Victor.

News spread and Victor heard about the betrayal but he did not say nor do anything until the night before Victoria’s engagement. Days before so, Victoria felt penitent. She believed that Victoria’s silence was punishment for her lack of courage. On the night before her engagement, Victoria received a huge painting from Victor. She took it and flew up the stairs into her quarters with a big smile despite the size of the painting.

That was the last time Victoria was seen smiling. Victoria never woke up the next morning. On her dressing table was a letter worded with ‘I am sorry but I hope you can hang the painting up’. The reason for her death nor how she died was never known, just like the location of Victor. That was the beginning to Aunt Victoria’s gaze upon us from our cream walls.

Grandmother believes that she died because she was love sick.

I, on the other hand, believe that there was something in the painting that only Aunt Victoria could understand.

04/12/15

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Being on a jet plane
yet alone a plane
were beyond my wildest imagination.

You should have unraveled the
missing puzzle by now.

I’m not one who runs away
nor forsakes responsibilities.

You were right,
people do change.
Don’t hold it against me.
I was never patient enough,
I still ain’t.

I took matters into my own hands,
just like you said I would
just like you said I shouldn’t;
just like I promised I couldn’t.

You were right,
again,
promises were meant to be broken.

Throughout,
you were the bad guy
and I, the good guy.
Indeed, there are two sides to a coin.
The same with people.

I remember your whispers,
like shouts from high-rises
about the things you could do for me.
About how you would, for me, dig through mud with your bare hands.

The time has come,
a well full of mud awaits you.

14/06/13