Sonali Raj

I didn’t see you

I didn’t see you walk up the drivewayAdd New
I would have seen you in the dark
I can make you out by moonlight
You rang the doorbell, everything had been silent until then
I didn’t know past or future just the infinite presents
I would have heard you breathing
I can hear your accent when I speak to myself
You rang the doorbell, I looked out the window
Your face was looking in, Why did you go? I wanted to say
You were not there when I opened the door
Not there when I ran down the driveway
Nor turning the street corner
I didn’t know which way to find you
You hadn’t ever been there at all.



When I asked you the colour of your eyes, it was because

no one can tell, looking at you, what race you are. You could be

Indian, I thought it was the Persian in your blood.


Your eyes are green early mornings, or perhaps, in the shadows, a translucent brown, and then depending on the day, your eyes are blue green yellow, I could see your veins even on a dull day.


When you turned and said, “you tell me,” I thought it wasn’t proper. You could have said, green mostly, or some such put-offish thing. But then I would have learnt nothing about your eyes—that they were, at that moment, made of water, a mountain stream, lit, placid, shaded in places.


I was lonely. Not for want of people, no, I feel lonely because there are few people whose veins I can see in the sunlight these days. Fewer who know love for love’s sake. I am a criminal really, a dog, I wanted to rest my head against your knee and stay like that. One day when I meet you again, if I do, would you still remember.



Upon a wall

Upon a wall I recline,
Counting my desires.
I want the calm of nights alone
A mountain stream about my toes
I want to drive leaning out
Face to face with the road
I shall stretch myself and roll
The sand and wind in my clothes
I shall stand up to my chest
In the swell of the sea
And subside with it when it falls
I will run around this city naked; trample
The elephant grass
I recline upon a wall,
though now and again I fall off.



Mainak’s photography

Sonali Raj did an MFA in creative writing from City University, Hong Kong. Her work has appeared in Eastlit, Pink Pages, Annapurna magazine and a couple of other places. She lives near New Delhi and blogs at