Poetry 2018 Longlist, Shuvendu Panda

Old Friend In Town

I wanted to chug beer, arm wrestle and chase women,
The kind of things best friends do.
He wanted to go to the opera house
And listen to the fat Italian lady.
You have changed- I sighed under my breath.
You have not- He seemed disappointed.

Chums of old town were meeting after a decade.
I wanted my old friend
A validation that my old self is still there.
He wanted a friend he can show around
To validate that even his past was sophisticated.

Most of the conversation was polite.
I didn’t curse to fit in.
He dusted off and wore his old wrangler jacket.
We were friends, trying too hard.

The day I was to leave , it was misty
The cold hand shake in the airport had a strange touch of finality.
Before he disappeared into the haze,
I yelled-
“Good that we are saying good bye in the mist
Means the road that led to this, must have been beautiful.”

I think I saw a silent nod.
But I could never be sure.

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