Love in the Time of Black Death


Doctors are said to have beautiful hands. Clean, white, and with long thin fingers, embalming the deaths as they happen. Transparent nails leaving crescent marks on the necks of lovers and concubines and sometimes carelessly on dead bodies in the post mortem room. Pretending to cure them the next moment with liquefied sunset antiseptics on cotton balls.


I have avoided falling in love as if it was a bubonic plague, creating swollen and spherical individual fortresses on my body which no Knights shall conquer.


But you were a young doctor from the twenty first century when you time travelled. You had alchemical eyes looked like green vitriol and a small harp winged on your back. To be honest, you didn’t look much like a doctor. You looked like worn flannel shirts tossed effortlessly in a leather bag along with a half eaten bag of chips for an autumnal sojourn in the forest.


I fled to a cottage in a French suburbia that summer to escape black death. People said you’d been drinking at the tavern lately, and your lips have become very purple, and you toss your tresses from your forehead very arrogantly if someone happens to mention a killing or a theft.


When I saw you, I was weaving melody into a raven’s song from the tinkling of the bells tied around the neck of my three baby goats and one of them ran to you.


Or were you an artist?


I remember it was a twilight, and I was role playing with a discarded plague mask in a deserted churchyard wearing a crisp black funeral dress that I stole from a thrift store. You see, in my entire life, everything I have owned was either begged, borrowed or stolen. At rare times, even picked up from the garbage within the first five seconds because that is how much time it took me to fall in love.


The land looked like a spread Kashmiri carpet laden with fruits, cities and tunnels soaked in honey. I’d put my head down the tunnel and I was in your one roomed studio apartment within a moment, where I can trace your shape among books, sitting on a wooden chair among blue smoke which burns with the residual of my illness.


I had put plaid curtains on the windows, and a maroon shadow hovers inside the space imprinting dark flowers on my solitude. I continue to sleep because when I am awake everything is so material between us that if I put my arms around you, you’d be just someone else from my school, the boys who eye me up when I move past the road in my favourite floral dress, or just any men.


In the French suburban landscape I put my lace collars everyday and pray in the evening so that my cookies aren’t baked with a medicinal smell.


You are a dispersed song that I have been trying to brew in my cauldron for years while I waited outside my therapist’s chambers, one after the other.


One time, among the flashing red neons of ambulances and siren songs, I was standing in front of you in the middle of my old schoolyard under a tall mango tree. Both of us nestled at the epicentre of an impending Kalboishakhi.


I forgot that I was dying of an epidemic illness, and you were supposed to be an arrogant doctor who would perhaps cure me.


Instead, you took my hand between your palms frail as a Kathbadam leaf, pressed it between a blue Coleman-Barks, and didn’t let it go.



About the Poet

Kristi Kar is a poet and illustrator from India. Studying English in Jadavpur University.