House of Exit

 

by Kavitha Rath

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.