Illustration by Kirsty Saunders
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House of Exit
When you were on the front lines,
I wrote you and felt a house of visions
as I walked into Hyde Park.
Warm-clad evenings by London Bridge,
where the sun shone bright at 9 pm
twilight just a step ahead.
integration on the back of my heels.
Draws of cherry shisha and mint tea
in Edgeware Road lounges
Here, Partition does not split us
brothers and sisters of the same nation.
Later, I curled up into my
Belfast-born, Bradford-bred, British-Indian
Roommate’s plush white carpet.
Momentary departures to an island nation,
imminent return to the homeland
one hers the other mine
if only in this generation.
I thought you knew me
like the roads back to your house
I thought you set my paths, alleys, and shortcuts
to a cartographer’s memory.
A familiar map of frayed folds,
and etched-out street names
that you don’t need to reference
when the names and boundaries merge:
sensitive, but not sentimental.
On the pavement by Tower Bridge,
the red double deckers swish by
swallowing me back into the grey
where I walked a city of glass
and the mist glared on the stones
roads narrowing and dropping off
into some parallel verse.