Cremating the Letters
Dear, happiness, religion
burn, parents, tomorrow - were
the words most repeated.
Rounded, ballpoint-edged and blue -
a wedged sky between clouds.
There were other words too:
incense-touched, march-twig, bird-feet,
bent-finger, but I couldnít tell
if they were her own
or well-meaningly borrowed.
I kept the letters in a cookie tin and hoped
at least the one where she wrote ĎLoveí
seven hundred times before finally
coming to terms with ĎDeathí written only once -
will defy the laws of loss.
Through filtered light I saw
dust and dry skin settling like little prisms. Once
those letters were the only vital signs
hadnít stopped from habit.
I climbed the chest,
dragged them to the floor.
Stripped them, letters from their cold
slit-throat covers. Raked
them in a heap and lit the fire.
Fire blazing luminous yellow,
sometimes red or blue on the fringes
and finally black in the dead center:
not soot but perforated memory.
It was a big fire.
Balled a fist, broad headed and winged
cicadas - also her word, perhaps
borrowed because you donít get them here.
The hot hymn still raging:
it promised to die.
But how? Why? I canít tell
even after the firemen are gone.
Because I have seen
burnt words shine
through dark rings
and burnt skin healing well
After a Visit to Niagara Falls
After the falls visit the butterfly conservatory.
I know you will like the moths, lacking
in colour and panache. Moths. They
arenít scared to splay their wings.
When I seduced one to a waltz
four sugar-seeking slant legs working
on my finger to exhaustion
were sorely disappointed but
didnít show, tell or fly away. No.
Beyond extraordinary longings,
ambitious for smaller things,
she meant to stay. And when I saw
the fibroid wings on her antennae
I curled like scooped ice-cream
trying to feel if perhaps there were
wings in me I didnít know.
O! How miserable the fall would be
but for the visit to the butterfly
conservatory where I found a moth -
ďDonít touchĒ displayed in bold-black
didnít make sense - I touched
them. Moths! So what
if that meant they would die.
That had to be a lie.
No one can die from touching.
© Sabyasachi Nag
Loch Raven Review Winter 2005 Vol. I, No. 2
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