Systematic Pressure, 1999

Heat is pressing down

on me, making my limbs heavy;

it is too hot to cook dinner,

too hard. Instead, we watch tv

together; we have always

been quite good at

watching tv together,

especially in the heat.

There is an air conditioner;

we don’t use it much.

My chest has been tight all

day; someone has been

sitting on my chest, my

throat has a great big ball

stuck halfway down;

my head is pounding

in a way I have never known

before — the ibuprofen tablets,

small and brown and magic,

do nothing. All my old

remedies have failed me;

so I lie still on the couch,

my head heavy on his chest,

breathing too thickly.

Sometimes, I have woken

in the night unable to breathe

properly; once I called

the hospital, and they said

to come in at once — it’s

very dangerous, not being

able to breathe. I got off

the phone, but decided to

wait a little while, and see

if things got better. They

seemed to get better.

The light has changed.

I am staring out the window

at the sudden missing sunlight —

storm clouds hang heavy

above me; I realize

that the rain is coming,

finally. That’s all. That

explains everything. At last,

it is coming, isn’t it?

The rain.

*****

M.A. Mohanraj

June 16, 1999