The clouds outside are heavy and shaped
like humps; inside there are two –
a man and a woman – caught in a moment
of arched backs. There is sorrow and the sound
of tears. She, with the wet cheeks, is the one
who is joyful, while he who wipes them is sad,
for he has forgotten how to cry when happy.
Maybe he never learned. This is the story
of the princess and the pea, except
there is no pile of mattresses to lie on.
He has planted a pea inside his beloved
and wonders if she’ll ever know a tranquil
night again; but it took many days for a smile
to reach her and sleep is the last thing on her mind.
Is this not how families are built – on smiles
and the undulating sound of tears?
Originally published in "The Makings of You", Peepal Tree Press, 2010. Reprinted by permission of the author.