The Inscrutable Illness of Things

by Satya Dash

My grandmother often in bouts of anger
turned stone pink in silence, quietly
remarking: it’s impossible to silence
silence. It took me years to understand
my awe for the way she could deal a noun
its own verb. I think about the last years
she spent paralyzed, a body washed slow
by warm cods of light, preparing for death
the way a flower softly quakes its nightly
bloom to be nibbled by a bee’s mandibles.
I’ve considered I might die alone rotting
in ecstasy. I’ve considered dying next
to a lover’s corpse. Their death preceding mine
for me to knead soft the elastic dough of absence.
I’ve considered death as death must be—
in reflections: clean spoons, mild scented soap,
whole mouthed words gravitating to me even
as I reel in aftermath. To be the right man
at the right time would shave away the fine
winter hairs of vulnerability. My tongue begs
you for an awakening: When the bird sings at dawn,
can you try singing too? Open your mouth
to yogurt mornings vending you taut. A voice
rubbing your throat rare, so a pitch could emerge
from you like a crystal’s edge. A pedestrian on a pesticide
soaked footpath. A cockroach in a cardboard corner.
A broom nurdling it. This too is your world
to feel and forget. Who owns peculiarity in things,
the arrival of mossy stains on my lapel, I don’t know.
I read about Noah’s Ark and my eyes dribble
sugar, dreams depositing a sludge of fondue
I dip my imagination in. I imagine an afternoon
relinquishing light, pulling back a hand from gloved
shame. The noon comes when we paddle boats
on film held up by the city’s churches floating
like brainy meringues, you and me on shores
sandless. The southern wind cradles anything
conspicuous. After you haul me up, shaking my fist
of colors loose, we skim borders, my rectangle
facing yours, our plural shadows in space walling up
the intimacy of rooms wherever they could.

Satya Dash is the recipient of the 2020 Srinivas Rayaprol Poetry Prize. His poems appear in Waxwing, Wildness, Redivider, Passages North, The Boiler, The Florida Review, Prelude, The Cortland Review and The Journal among others. Apart from having a degree in electronics from BITS Pilani-Goa, he has been a cricket commentator too. He has been nominated previously for Pushcart, Best of the Net and Best New Poets. He grew up in Cuttack and now lives in Bangalore, India. He tweets at: @satya043.