Every wedding anniversary, we behave like mountaineers,
and pretend to have conquered distance.
The summit is still a misty metaphor.
You make purchases and call them ‘presents’.
I recount obese details of a past that’s lost its congruence.
Anniversaries are wall paint, a smoothening of pores.
They bring colour to the skin of a marriage,
and hide cracks where parasites evade mores.
By the eleventh, we are exhausted.
Imagination has become a fixed deposit.
Your presents arrive together:
binoculars for me, a telescope for you.
You ask me to watch birds during the day so that
you can watch the stars at night.
‘Which is closer – the birds in your binoculars
or the stars in my telescope?’ you ask.
‘You,’ I say, singular. And late laughter.
The whisper is a parody of the night the anniversary commemorates.
‘Yes,’ you say, your smile a new reincarnation,
‘You are singular – from you begins my infinity’.
Until we were married,
I never bothered about the plural.
Singularity is better than singular,
you said the morning of our wedding.
The lineman disconnected the phone call.
All our troubles you blamed on a metaphor: age.
All our fights I blamed on the plural.
The birds in my binoculars settled in a cage.
We got our marriage certificate photocopied.
Your stars, middleclass to a fault, survive
on insurance policies. Our plural –
joint account, train compartments, trilogy –
gets thinner with each day.
The marriage becomes a metropolis –
you and I its anonymous citizens.
The singular buys a CCTV camera from ebay.
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