“The Invisible Woman” by Aarushi Ahluwalia

Do I ever come up,
I wonder,
when you’re just sitting there with your friends?

Between the words you exchange;
about the weaponry of your world,
When you exchange empty pleasantries,
and talk about beer and the cold.

In the middle of the day,
when you stand facing the lawns.
Cup of tea in hand,
And a cigarette on your lips.
Talking about the day’s work,
and how behind you it will always lurk.

Or when you’re having drinks,
At one of your stiff upper-lip dos.
Standing there so far away from me,
Each person like a replica,
Of the idea of a what a man should be.

Do you ever say—
I have to get home to my woman.
— Or something in passing
About that table with the broken peg,
And how it sprained my leg.

Maybe someone brings up a trip,
To a land where you know I’ve been.
Do you ever think to say the things I told you,
about the twinkling lights and quiet brooks I’ve seen.

Or maybe you’re just feeling stressed,
because of some shared pain,
Do you stop pretending for a second,
That your home isn’t an empty lane,
With just walls painted in memories,
And nothing else?

Do you ever cross a woman in the street,
In a white shirt like the one that makes me feel fat,
And turn to your companion and say,
My girl, she has a shirt just like that.

Do you ever see an aquarium,
In a dingy office,
Underneath the surface of this Petri dish,
And say to the person beside you,
My partner she’s creeped out by fish.

Or maybe, just maybe,
When I’m far away watching another world unfurl
And you’re surrounded by a sea of other people.
Do you turn to any of them and say—
Damn, I miss my girl.

Do I ever come up,
I wonder,
When you’re inside your own life.
Doing the things that have nothing to do with us.

Because sometimes,
When I step outside this house,
our home,
I feel invisible.
Like I’m a creation,
Of my own imagination.

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