da vinci’s song

da vinci's song

Ria Chaudhary | Art by Kristin Zhao

a story? well, let me think

I knew a girl, quite long ago,

we had quite the link

til she let me go. 


she was your age!

yes, and oh so kind,

I held her close, alone in my mind,

I held her because the memory would not die. 


and many years I lived alone,

til I was called to the desert to go

and observe an anomaly in the sand,

unsifted over the promised land. 


I walked for days

I walked through nights

I walked even as the sun shone bright 


for I knew, sure as the moon, that her and I would meet again soon. 


and sure enough, in the distance I saw

a woman beautiful, fair and tall

but as I drew close I could nearly tell.

it wasn’t her – unless – well –


I opened my heart,

and poured at her feet.

her smile, unfamiliar,

felt bittersweet.


and in a voice, kind and calm,

she said to me

a kind of song. 


would you like to hear it?


she said:


you say you knew a girl, once, long ago. 


I’ve seen her too, heard her name, know how the story goes. 


so tell me, love, when you close your eyes, do you see her in your mind?


if you do, we part ways, for no answer will you find


that will change that picture to one you might want to frame on your wall.


in fact, continue down this path – you’ll wish you never asked at all. 


your heart breaks for her, I know, I see it through your chest. 


you’ve heard a part of the story – dare you hear the rest?


she lived in her head, matted be her hair,


she felt pain and felt love but fell short of a pair.


she could not find her match, 


she was lonely in the dark.


her strands soon unraveled,


she weaved herself apart.


each tug cut loose a string


one she still held dear


and it just happens to be


the one she clung to was fear. 


you may find her alone at night


drifting through the lawn, she comes and goes and cannot see


what happens when she’s gone.


but your eyes, they cut


through layers. you see not a disguise


and that is why, though sad, you have not wiped your eyes. 


you know that every coat of paint leaves traces still behind.


and that is how you came to me,


for her to find. 


I do not have her, I cannot give her, but I can tell you a time


did once exist where she would’ve given you her life.


she loves and she misses you and you opened her eyes.


still she lives within me, now under the guise


that no one would miss her, that no one would cry-


but look at you you’re weeping! dry those dreary eyes,


and come to me, but draw not


your sword from your disguise. 


for she is not within me


like a mother with a child. 


her and I have lives all completely intertwined. 


I am no more real


than money in a mine.


you take the gold and you must make


the value call yourself. 


but if you have the patience,


I have a start


that maybe if you wipe slowly


the paint


may come apart


and you will find,


like at the start,


she falls apart


with teary eyes.


I am her


as she is I. 


and though you look away 


lightly dampening eyes


I wield the brush


and paint again


so you must never say goodbye. 


you paint and paint and tell yourself


that if they had your eyes


they would see the layers you abandoned,


homes that were once yours


they would feel the waves and they lapped along


the California shore


they would cry alone


and catch balloons


that fall from the sky


they would not shudder, they would not turn


but they might cry. 


and once alone

i begin to sing a quiet song


the terrors will join me

and they sing along


they sing of fear, they sing of hope, they wrap me in their shawls

they tell me that they loved me from the time i learnt to crawl


and with their help i paint my mask


and keep it on with glue.


and even now


as i tell


this story to you


it and my skin


may seem


one and the same


but look close 


and you will see


cracks in the paint. 


the girl in the darkness,


she did not fade away.


she is here. she is safe.


and here she shall stay,


locked away 


under coats of paint


waiting to dry.


do not mourn her,


there is no loss,


please, do not cry. 

there she sat,

alone in the sand

of what once was

the promised land. 


and though you can imagine

my tear-soaked eyes

I knew for her sake

I must cease to cry

and I told her 

what I know to be true.

she had not died 

if I knew


that deep within

she is still living. 

a dove is a dove

if you paint its wing,


and in the louvre

there may hide

another woman

deep inside.

the surface rests

with a knowing smile

attempts to understand

are all futile –

she is the same

as the girl inside. 

they coexist. 

you never die.


I told her that 

in my memory

the picture holds

of her and me

alone of the swings,

grass stains and things

we could not yet tell of

and to her I bring

my joy, my love, my company,

I hold you close

as you once held me. 


eighteen years have passed since then,

and little has changed in my head. 

I know her now, her twists and turns,

what you knew and what you now have learnt. 

those two and one and the same,

and though love may be a cruel game,

lucky are we to be the players.


and you, love, were our prize.

come, now, wipe your eyes,


for every night I say my prayers,

that you will let go not 

of the girl inside.

paintstrokes may cover,

but they never hide.