only the waters

Forecast is gloomy despite the sun breaking out in pillars of light inside this one-bedroom apartment.

I walked about two miles to get home. The guy over the counter told me I can’t have an ID until my green card application gets processed. So I am a nobody until then.

Inside the bedroom, she is in tears. HelloFresh charged her sixty-five bucks without her knowing. She was enjoying the meals and making them. It gave her a sense of power. But now it’s all radiant red spots on her face as she feels guilty, crumpled up like an open half bag of Doritos she loves so much. Red spots like red dust specked across the bagged dioramas.

So much life has been sucked out of us.

We keep giving, giving, and giving, but for some reason it’s never been enough. I close the door on her as she wants some space. I think I guess it’s all over. July 15th. My parents’ marriage anniversary, and I am losing our marriage to HelloFresh. Is it a cliche phrase? Losing a marriage? English is not my first language. But I pretend.

Isn’t everything cliched when it comes to maintaining a marriage?

We got married out of love, out of fear of losing each other. The US government wants to see how on earth it is possible to love somebody from a different land, a different language and decide to do taxes with them until death do them apart. I can see Uncle Sam’s hand inside a bag of Doritos as he watches our marriages crumble down like individual Dorito chips inside his salivating mouth. Two point three per one thousand. From those who actually report. Imagine the number that never reports, or estrangement, or slowly falling out of love trying so hard to stick together.

We break apart but still remain close inside the mouth of our giant swallower. We lose everything. We disintegrate.

Clouds outside are coming down on us in the sweltering burst of sunburned slaps across our skin. A pandemic never ends. We welcome another earth-ender inside our ecosystem and call it quits at the dinner table. My wife keeps weeping in the bedroom. I can hear her over the sink water running aimlessly into the upturned pots and pans, as I wash them in the kitchen.

My parents stay awake hoping to see a glimpse of us together on the other side of the world. From their bent and broken bodies to a tiny screen, I get to delegate two countries, two cultures that float together like oil on water. I get agitated when I cannot explain things to them. Why are we so close but so apart at the same time? Why do these relics of crusty old societal values scare us? Can’t we too defy them as they’ve done, as their ancestors did for centuries and pretend it’s all okay?

I scrape off the leftover curry stains from a non-stick pan and rinse them with water. One crusty flake at a time. Wish it was that simple doing so when it came to our inane family values that desperately try to hold us despite resentment, despite bitterness that grows over time, unwashable, insoluble. Two cultures don’t blend in. They either exist side by side. Or one has to go.

It starts to rain finally. I can no longer hear her weeping from the bedroom. Only the waters.

SUJASH PURNA is a Bangladeshi poet and photographer based in Madison, Wisconsin. He is the author of Epidemic of Nostalgia (Finishing Line Press) and Azans for the Infidel (Mouthfeel Press). His poetry appeared in South Carolina Review, Hawai'i Pacific Review, Kansas City Voices, Poetry Salzburg Review, Gutter, Stonecoast Review, and others. His photography can be found on Instagram @poeticnomadic