A Strange Predicament
When I stop to consider the facts
They astonish me.
There you are, couched in your own skin,
And here I am in mine.
No matter how close,
We must each do our own living.
Your heart cannot be persuaded to pump my blood.
My lungs will not consent to breathe for yours.
It is an odd arrangement.
Inside me, a mansion of memory and anticipation.
A place other people may visit, like a museum.
Inside you, a similar mansion that I can visit.
And with your permission, gaze at pictures on the wall.
But only until closing time.
And is this not a strange predicament?
This seeming and inescapable individuality?
The hard shell of ‘I’ that we live inside,
Like soft-bodied sea creatures.
When did we choose this?
And on whose ill-advice?
How different the world would be
If we could waft through different identities
As easily as the wind inhabits the trees.
Then the woman selling flowers at the street corner
Would be me.
And the crumpled leaf of the half-blown rose in her bucket
Would be me.
And the man reaching into his back pocket to pay for the bouquet – me. Me. Me.
Then I would not be ‘I’ any more.
And neither would you.
No not at all and never again.
Once out of the bottle
No genie of sound mind ever chooses to return
To such cramped, uncomfortable quarters.

~ Pavithra Mehta