When we were younger, you'd always urge me to dream
of a white castle, complete with its keep, battlements,
towers, bailey and moat;
you'd whisper, beckoning me
to find more than a room reeking of stale cigarettes;
you'd speak, asking me to abandon this place
overwhelmed with its miasma of despair
and find more than a life plagued with debauched
cyber-addictions;
you'd believe, saying, "One day, you'll find that castle
with a garden of hyacinths and shelter
yourself in the shade of an old willow tree,
and marvel at the auburn sunset."
Time has passed, and you've grown frailer,
and I, weaker, but we're still in the same space
and the same moment like an old chandelier
hanging from a cracked ceiling,
we're still haphazardly foxtrotting to the rhythm of
the same song - a screechy Motown
played by the same antediluvian gramophone,
but as I walked to the balcony of our apartment
this morning to sip my coffee alone,
epiphany struck me, and terror made me realize
that there's nothing out there that needs finding,
because we've always lived in a white castle
under a garish green sky, overlooking Eden
filled with wood nymphs, trees of life and Lethe
running through it, from which we drink knowingly
because we'd rather stay here fortified
than brave the raw, uncompromising wild.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

For dVerse