I thought freedom meant something grander

It is odd that you should come to me now
when the evening is waning and the darkness
gaining strength. This unnatural hour that I have slept in still
hungry from an unfinished early meal, you appear
with your full body and voice and ask me to write again. I
am sitting in a car, running late for my piano lesson, and you
are leaning at the door, telling me the trees have stopped
growing where you live. That you’ve walked across
two continents but the moon still refuses to leave you.

I hear you’ve started praying now--cut your hair
and stopped wearing blue. They say you suffered
for my art, for desire and despair. I suffered
for my quietude, for I thought freedom
meant something grander. Thankfully, our inequities
were even: clear and simple, the way horses grieve.
After a while, it became harder to realize I was
not talking to my refrigerator. I was, in fact, suffering.

In the dream, we are now climbing a staircase.
I am walking behind you, watching your milky calves
stroll in and out of your summer skirt. “What do you understand
of love?” you ask. “Nothing,” I say. “And loss?” “Nothing.”
“Then why do you write about either?”
“I don’t.

I write about you.” You pause for a moment,
but do not turn back. Outside the window,
birds are turning into stone. Around the world, everyone
is entering a conversation.

[Hemant Mohapatra, 'All That Bravery Got Us Nowhere', from Best New Poets 2011]

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