My nails quiver. I debark myself on a bench left alone in the pestilence.
Wind lifts its leg, licks and steriles itself.
My mother drowned me in the last plague
to save me from fever and hunger.
I learned – to live one must demise;
to fulfill one must empty all promises
in a valise, bury them before the authority arrives.
Wind smells disinfected. Reticence breaks quarantine.
I devour my nails, and they resurrect
as if those can nourish me through
this birth of happenstance. This birth, a solitaire,
I should hide before the turn of the time robs it again.
Wind stares at me and wanders away.
“Mother.” I murmur. A siren patrols the silence.
If they ask me I should say, “Esurience
has not visited me nor the sickness.
Jai ho. Long live. Make the thinning great again.”
The humdrum of humble chores
hunted by us both
because the syllables,
stressed and unstressed, of gardening,
dusting, washing, doing the dishes
or fluffing those instruments of sleep
lullabies our nervous system.
“Which song did your great grandparents
sing during the old pestilence?”
You shake your head. The scattered music
migrated to the concentration camp of Lethe.
During shoveling snow that swirls
the ground beneath for the first time since
the glacial maximum I discover
my grandmother’s canticle – half ember,
half skeletal, some canary’s bones
asleep in its circle.
Kushal Poddar is the author of ‘The Circus Came To My Island’, ‘A Place For Your Ghost Animals, Understanding The Neighborhood’, ‘Scratches Within’, ‘Kleptomaniac’s Book of Unoriginal Poems’, ‘Eternity Restoration Project – Selected and New Poems’ and now ‘Herding My Thoughts To The Slaughterhouse – A Prequel’ (Alien Buddha Press). amazon.com/author/kushalpoddar_thepoet | https://twitter.com/Kushalpoe