Ode to Cities
Crowded coffee shops,
the chaos of other conversations
I found you in places like these
Anonymous hideaway worlds
with rushed waiters, and the
same stained menu we knew by heart
where every overheard voice
told us life was interesting elsewhere
Your murmur low in my ears and I
lost the words you said.
Crowded coffee shops still crop up
on every clogged street,
in every new city I visit
I hear you now, your low murmur
caught in moments of sudden silence.
Every city has these.
And you say: ‘you’re talking to cities now’.
‘Only the one I miss
If I can’t walk on its streets no more
look out of its windows, measure its rain.
While a hello could go anywhere.’
You sit coffee in hand, I almost tell you:
A city needs words, never for itself.
You can’t miss a city like you do a friend.
When words don’t matter,
and there’s your unchanging smile.
then you ask, ‘are you all right’.
and our lives trapped by the very words
that give it meaning.
Everywhere I go, I find myself talking
of the city I left behind.
Looking out from high-rise windows elsewhere
I make comparisons.
This view, versus other views
that swim to surface so readily.
Or else, in the middle of conversations
where every stranger and new friend
Talks of the home that matters
I talk of the city
that became home in a totally unintentional way
Almost like falling in love, which is
best when it happens unexpectedly.
I never said this loud of course.
It was always a secret.
Like the other secrets you must carry inside
To remind yourself of the person you have been
Of the roads you have travelled, even in secret.
* * *
Aditi Kay is a writer who has completed her first novel. She works as a freelance editor and management consultant. Presently, she is based in Baltimore, Maryland, but has lived mainly in India and Singapore. Find her on Facebook.