AN ODE TO MY (QUARANTINE) LOVERS)
Years later we sat around recalling the blurred green of a new spring
caught from a camera lens, and the song that had washed over the noise
of the summer that had loomed so large on the horizon. All green gone,
the hard winter sun reigning in the cerulean sky, someone’s drunken cries
reverberated through soft skin and a mass of hair. A plate of oranges
lay abandoned on the bed in the dark, hushed room. How deliciously
supple were the hands that peeled them and fed them to each other
with a tenderness that confessed that, after all, friends were lovers too.
Later, during the plague, in a car parked in sweltering heat, the same hands
held each other like a miracle, and as the months flashed by and the heat
gave way to loud, pelting rain, the sense of something miraculous remained.
And in a room reeking of the sweet, clinical smell of vodka, and of something
that might have been love, I imagined the sun filtering through the blue curtain
against my back and creating a halo that you arrested in space with your hand
around my neck. I waited for the suddenness of your fingers at the back
of my mouth, unsurprised by how I always found myself at the edge of starvation.
Outside, the foul, urgent smell of death hung in the air and we ignored it
with a practiced rigour. All year we had longed for touch and when it had come,
it had dissolved and vanished before memory could get a hold of it
for safekeeping. Each time we tried to forget time, trick it into forgetting
itself, but each time the inky night swallowed the sky precisely, cruelly when
it was supposed to. Back in homes that months ago had started to seem
like our own mausoleums, we waited, quiet, with bated breath,
for things we didn’t dare name and for things we didn’t dare dream of.
Mahima Kapoor is an MPhil scholar and fellow at Delhi University’s Department of English, working on queer studies and the fiction of Jeanette Winterson. She divides her time between reading and writing for work and pleasure, trying to cultivate radical vulnerability in both her writing and her life. Her work has previously appeared in Turnpike Magazine and Tether’s End Magazine.