Poems – Nisha D'cruz

We asked some of our emerging writers and poets to send in their response to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Here, Nisha D’cruz shares reflections on a couple of poems about place and belonging.

“These poems are about places that are very special to me. In the recent weeks, I have been reflecting on the many streets I have wandered. I thought a lot about being the same person in different places, or a different person in the same place (child, daughter, woman, lover).  I sat alone in the sun, I looked at photos of these places, I thought about people who were special to me in those times and spaces. I want these poems to make people feel something – maybe what I felt when I was in those places, but maybe something completely new to them. Sometimes (not always) it can be as simple as that.”

A portrait of Nisha D'cruz looking away from the camera
Photo: Chris Gurney

Southern River

The street

where my street

meets his street

becomes our street.


We stroll hand in hand,

the sun rises

and sets

in our orbit.


The day is always longer

than the one

that came before,

and yet never

long enough.

Jalan Rasah

The air

touches you like a lover,

hot breath on neck,

presses against shoulders,

wraps around thighs.

Wear it like a second skin.


Wash the street smell off

at the end of the day,

hear the fishmonger cackling down the drain,

the greying women cooing

from flower stalls outside temples,

the sharp pop!

of flour coated banana

dropped into boiling oil.


Again, the heavy air-

suffocating in the middle of the night,

always grabbing for more more more,

clawing against the the curve of sleep.

Wake up drowning.


In the monsoon season, the clouds hang low.

Stick your finger out and feel the air

heavy and wet with waiting,

water moving under paddy fields.


I am a child again and I sit in the street with the next-door boy for hours.

The milkman pinches my cheeks,

my grandfather sells old newspapers to the big truck

with the loud Chinese uncle leaning out the window,

my brothers ride the bicycles

up and down the old train track.


I eat a whole durian cross-legged on the kitchen floor,

face flushed with greed,

licking lips,

lapping hot milo out of a saucer like a cat.


Hear the call to prayer 5 times a day-

the next-door boy hunches down next to his father.


I pull aside curtain,

peek through grilled window.

There is an ache

in the pit of my stomach,

hard seed in soft fruit.


No train rumbles down

the abandoned tracks,

and yet

the earth trembles.

Bloc La Bordetta

The sun doesn’t set

in Barcelona,

it melts.

Soft butter in the frying pan,

orange clouds licking

its sides.


The whole city

a cacophony of buskers,

beggars and taxi drivers-

all swearing at tourists.


The sky stays blue

for hours after nine pm.

I roam the streets for days

and never find a mailbox.

I carry around a postcard

that says I wish you here,


wander the plaza of

pigeons and old men

sharing wooden benches

toddlers kicking balls.


A brick wall tagged


marks those to whom

this place belongs,

and who

belong to this place.


Shrouded in silky morning mist,

I call a lover

but he does not pick up.

And so


there is nothing left

to do


but drink wine

and eat fish-

pick the bones out

of soft flesh

with my fingers,

be bathed in cigarette smoke,

let my hair curl down my back,

let my skin burn in the sun,

stare back at old men in a bar,

watch them watch me

watch my body

my soft flesh

my bones



there is nothing left

to do


but watch the sun melt

and the sky turn from yellow

to pink to blue

to midnight blue.


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