New | Poems by Simrita Dhir

Photo by Arshi Zama

What Fever does 

A fever nips speeding time

Awakens the body to the reality of now

Heat raging inside and out

Limbs constricting

Forehead throbbing

Eyes watering

Everything hurting

Ask for forgiveness, Ella says

I close my heavy eyelids and

Seek forgiveness from the universe

For mistakes that I have committed knowingly and unknowingly

For thoughtless words that I have uttered

For expectations that I couldn’t meet

For hearts that I have bruised


I open my eyes and nod

Ella nods back

We smile even as our eyes are brimming

Two days later, when I am up and about and hopping in the sun

I call Ella to say thanks and we get talking about the benevolence of fevers

How they make us humble compassionate kind

Grateful loving amicable 


Overhead dragonflies are gliding by

Their sunlit wings glittering 

I crinkle my eyes and jump up to touch their trail of light

Iridescent colors set my hand ablaze

I gaze at it and gasp

Who could have known that in leaving, the fever would present me with a

Dazzling new dream

That’s a Friend

When you meet a good person, you immediately let your guard down, Ella says intently. I try to think of the good people in my life. I am still thinking when she

rambles on. A good person never puts you on the defensive, a good person knows what to say and when, she says. I am still trying to recall the good people that I have

encountered. A good person makes excuses for your lapses and tells you not to be hard on yourself. A good person knows when you are sad and tries to make you smile,

she says with emphasis. Suddenly I jerk and stop thinking. That’s not a good person, that’s a friend, I say. Ella waves her hand impatiently. First there is a “becoming

stage” when all that there is - is a good person. Later, there can be a friendship, she says. She waves her hand again as though to say that I know nothing. I think of my

few friends and step up to take my turn at waving the hand. A friend is a friend even before you’ve met, a friend doesn’t have to become, a friend simply is, I say.

 Ella gasps. I wink. I may not know everything but I do know something that is worth knowing.

Too much of anything good

I wait for rain, pray for it. Rain will drive the drought away, nurture fields and dreams, sprout hopes and crops and laughter. I see rain birds hopping, I can smell rain too,

a lot of it. Ella tells me that things are best wished for in moderation, too much of anything good turns atrocious like too much emotion, too much trust, too

much love. I agree not. It’s raining now. Faraway fields dance to rain and I want to dance, too, but my mind begins to worry for the tall eucalyptuses that grow along the

old road that leads up to my house. Rain-drenched soil will loosen their roots, send them tumbling down. Darn that Ella. She doesn’t have to be always right.

A strong tree will endure. I’d rather love too much or not at all.

Bio: Simrita Dhir is a California-based academic and novelist.  She is a Duke of Edinburgh Gold Standard Awardee and the author of the critically acclaimed historical novel The Rainbow Acres. She seeks meaning in fever, friendship and love. Ella, who, figures in all three poems, is at once a friend, critic and mentor.

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