In my late teens, a college student hurrying to catch a bus in the capital city of my birth country, I walked past a woman with the saddest eyes and high heels ringing music on the sidewalk; she seemed headed for work. I was a private poetry writing mill at that time, while studying Math, Biology and Chemistry, so out of that encounter, from things going on in my life at the time and also that of a close relative, I imagined a composite existence and wrote the poem below, Masks. It is one of those “unprogressed” (my word for not ‘in progress’) pieces in my catalogue of unfinished works – a version is in my first award-winning set of poems.
There’s a wailing emptiness
On the fissured pavements
In the dying echoes
Of a city girl’s pencil-heeled strut.
She’s so detached;
Suitors offer love, she rebuffs
Desire blooming spontaneously
On the soil of her heart,
At the spine-curling future of an office desk
She must first calculate the prospects.
And dream on
Of princes, and bigger cities one day
Her very own high-rise dungeon in the sky,
A jumper’s drop below luminous night streets
Cavort with ladies, once-pretty and groomed
In revelry to feline sleekness, to meteoric span.
A prospector dares;
His patience chisels away
Cemented slabs of confidence,
Behind the bravery of each fortressed life
You’ll find scampering humans,
A build of bones and bruises.
Her will of iron he sees
Secured in a cracking case of make-believe,
Past her flashing frolics ambulance vultures roar
Through vivacity, to a heart soggy with sadness,
Scalpels and science can’t lift the heaviness
Pulling down her lips where the smiles taper.
City girls flit by working;
Resuscitating fun, heartaches and loneliness
Wrapped up in the very latest fashions, patented secrets
Protected, held-high above
The midday crowds like storefront banners
Proclaiming parading moods below.
City girls are modern
Career castaways and independent,
Hurting, will not say
Lest we be heard,
I need you.