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Shyamolie Singh


Skyscraper Poem


1.     in linguistics,
i am beginning to learn
the ways of words.

2.     unlike you or me,
words do not sleep alone.

3.      letters are strung together
their limbs tangled lazily,
and words sleep not in silence
but in repeated loss
of re-making
and losing

4.     he pronounces
"deconstruction" and I
think of you.

5.     in linguistics,
i spent a class
learning about
how meaning
is eternally

6.     that means, he says,
that words can only be defined
by a string of more words.

7.     you stretch your arms out,
and meaning leans out of reach
and you reach, but never do.

8.     i think of you.

9.     if meaning is often lost,
in the routes language takes,
i think, you mean so much more.

10.     there are oceans
of meaning
between us
and neither of us
ever learnt to swim.

11.     i think, strangely,
that words do
not always mean
what they appear to mean,
but they often mean
that the oceans
between us
mean so little.

12.     together, we missed a few
dozen swimming lessons --
i told myself delhi would
never, ever, ever flood.

13.     the thing about language, though,
is that there is more than one kind.

14.     i hold your fingers when you tell me
that you used to have guitar calluses.

15.     linguistics, it turns out,
is the study of imperfect
word systems that humans use,
prone to breakdown, like everything else.

16.     our language is beautiful to me:
our deeply unromantic
sock-clad feet curl
around each other
like imperfect word
and imprecise object.

17.     languages, i learn,
exist despite broken
pathways and arbitrary signifiers.

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Skyscraper Poem

I find myself walking to your room
at intervals, frequently enough to know
how softly to turn the door knob.

My mind is organising
large-scale excavations to 
recreate us in high-definition,
build a skyscraper full of 
events and occurrences, 
love letters stacked as high
as building permissions go,
windows full of bright,
blinking lights that fade
into soft night.

How fast 
can one go
in order to
slow this 

Tone deaf, I am driven
to desperation: the urge
to (incorrectly) use music 
to describe you. I listen to jazz
at 2 AM. I think of how to fit
you into an extended jazz metaphor, 
and I remember I don’t speak jazz.

Maybe fragments fit you best:
romanticised architecture, broken jazz,
statements hanging in mid-air looking
for a stanza to join, constellation hunting
between your verse and mine.

The intimacy
of seeing you half-asleep is – 
the skyscraper shivers.

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Shyamolie Singh is a postgraduate student of Political Science at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. Her other interests involve wildlife photography, feminist/anti-caste literature, and public policy. These are her first published poems.

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