myth-making

Lakshmi Mitra

 

I was born the year of the flood –
perhaps you remember the one, when
it dawned sudden as a bloody blow
starless, bereft, the night cracked into morsels
dinners abandoned, grappling for torches,
the restive eyes of a civet, the world
tossed easy as a tide amidst
crooked moon-slices and a brother’s screams

your cousin may have told you of me,
or a distant uncle, or a barely-known
face, in the dark after festivities
you think of me unbidden, in the depths
of a prayer, kneeling in supplication
in the incense-fog of a puja room, in the shattering
of glass in the morning, sugared coffee catching
the shifting corners of bleary light

I travel well and often, through
wires and wind, through multicoloured
lozenges and salted nuts, the brisk music of
clinking coins on local buses, the light gossip
before a chaat-stand at a roadside bazaar
from the mouths of beggars and construction-men
in the words uttered before birdsong
and after sleep

I will fade someday into a slow atrophy, quiet
and unknowable, just the dust
preserved in a closing line on
the plaque of an artefact
neatly catalogued in the polished corner of
a museum of art, in some
cold-weather country
where there are no civets

 

 


Lakshmi Mitra is a recent postgraduate living in India. Her work has appeared in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, The Rumpus, The Rising Phoenix Review, and in other places.

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