The Picture

There it was
That faintly colored
Untouched picture from the past
The girl stood squinting
Into the distance
I tried to find
Her line of sight
What was she thinking
Could she imagine
The world she would inhabit
Twenty years later

—Shaku Selvakumar, April 2014

Old Friends

Old friends meet in the midst of remember whens
When the light was pure and hearts were whole
Barely bruised, soft and tender
When possibilities were boundless
Chariots awaited, dreams were daring
Wearing rose colored glasses, skipping on cloud nine
When youth feared nothing
Nothing at all

Old friends travel the years of distance
Recounting the time when children grew up
Recalling the instances when the heart shattered
Falling on the floor, a million pieces
Then bending down to pick up the fragments
And slowly piece it together again

Old friends glance at each other’s faces
At creases that have appeared
Where once was unlined skin
At the remnants of who they were
Lingering in the eyes
Touching the smile and caressing the lips
The face that was once brash, defiant
Now accepting of the winds of change

Old friends exchange bursts of information
Retelling old stories as they reinvent themselves
Toggling between past and present
Sometimes laughing at their blinkered selves
Their discussions now richer
With an adjusted view into the future
Filling every crevice in the conversation
Followed by pauses of understanding
Nodding when no word is needed
A hand reaching out during moments of silence

Old friends say goodbye
Their confessions intact
Burdens slightly lightened
Some advice exchanged
This time was a respite
But their other world breaks through
Text messages and phone calls
They stand up and hug
Promising to stay in touch
To make plans to meet soon
Life is too short they say
For friends to stay away

— Shaku Selvakumar March 2013