POETRY ISSUE #37

210-44fg
Image: “210-44fg” by Jeremy Siedt. 54”x94”, Dye, Oil, Acrylic, Bleach, Pigment,
Latex and corrosive metals on canvas, 2016

URVASHI BAHUGUNA

Featured Poet

 

 

THE YEARS COME A-TUMBLING

It took long hours to fashion a set of wings
out of cardboard and silver foil, to pour glue

out of a blue bottle, paint with a flat brush
to the very edge. My mother punched holes,

slipped drawstrings borrowed from petticoats
and tied them on my back. As these stories go,

at the close of the school day, I returned
one-winged. My mother was inconsolable.

Once, overcome with the wrong sort of love,
I slipped a silver ring studded with moon off

my finger and handed it to a boy. What a gesture.
When he broke the delicate metal, I wanted

only the ring. The boy could stay where he was.
But each time I asked for the pieces to repair,

he refused. Promises that he would fix it himself
were followed by anger. What did one ring matter?

I reached for reasons – a gift from an aunt when
I first left home, my favourite stone. But why

should I explain why I love a thing? I wept
at the loss – more proof I was shallow,

not as pure in my love as I claimed. It took me
twenty years to remember my mother bending

her weight into the scissors to carve wings from
a thick board, to recall how I have no memory

of when the string loosened, when the silver trailed
into the crowd, how I was maddened by her grief.

Now I reach for the phone to tell her I never got
the ring back, to apologise that I misplaced the love

pulled from her like water from a stone.

 

fgm-9672

fgm-9672” – 66”x90”, Dye, Oil, Acrylic, Bleach, Pigment, Latex, Fibers and corrosive metals on canvas, 2017

 

 

THE FUTURE IN OUTER SPACE
Peter Harrison Planetarium, England

Of all the photos of the Northern Lights I pick
one pinched for color – a moonplate of white

cherry blossom (it is the season)   black mussel shells
(sucked clean)   scoops of mochi ice cream (your favorite)   

tapioca beads set to explode in a glass of coconut milk.
Oh darling, how laden is our feast.

I even found our star in the travelling exhibit. Sirius
swings color with every dry tumble through outer space

– kelp yellow  petroleum blue kryptonite’s minty green glow
a rollerblading rainbow   sampling every flavor of ice lolly

on the road.

The planetarium dome is a thick blanket of cream-fed stars
& I   am wide awake skin. I touch my knuckle to yours

map the globe of my breasts as our astronomer says in four
and a half billion (billion!) years the sun will burst   leaving

a dwarf star packed full of black diamonds. I wonder if we will
end like this – shedding a nebulous light larger than ourselves.

I would never leave you quietly. Without thunderclap and star-burst.
Without a scratch in the sky to say we were here and so bright.

 

 

polarissima

Polarissma” –  36”x48”, Pigment and corrosive metals on canvas, 2011

 

SPARE ME THIS LOVE FOR FAMILY TONIGHT.
After Zeina Hashem Beck

This thigh-slicked birthing, this remembering what they once
looked like tonight. This cloning of red blood-cells, this love
for ties and forgiveness tonight. I know people who go months
without thinking of, let alone reaching for, their folks. Let’s dance
alone a little, let’s rub coconut oil into our scalps & roots tonight.
Spare me anything closer than a friend tonight. Habiba, love me
some other time. I can waltz by myself tonight, lead and follow
with two feet tonight. As the kids say, I can walk & chew gum
at the same time. Oh, habiba, don’t mistake this for loneliness
& extend me a little pity. Not tonight. Don’t be afraid if I can dance
& weep at the same time, if I can sweep crumbs & sing. Oh, habiba,
god will smite me into crescents for these lines, but I could spare
even my lover tonight. Let’s drink a little, habiba, it took me
years to dance here – in my own skin for whole minutes
without needing another and with age, habiba, with time,
jaaneman, the minutes only grow, only multiply.

Urvashi Bahuguna’s debut poetry collection, Mudscope, was selected for the 2017 Emerging Poet’s Prize by Aimee Nezhukumatathil and will be published late 2018 by The Great Indian Poetry Collective. Her work has been recognized by a Charles Wallace India Trust Fellowship, a Sangam House fellowship, an Eclectica Spotlight Author Prize, a TOTO Award for Creative Writing, and a Wingword Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Orion, SOFTBLOW, The Nervous Breakdown, Eclectica Magazine, The Fourth River, Barely South Review, Kitaab, Jaggery, The Four Quarters Magazine and elsewhere. Her writing has been anthologised in Aquanauts (Sidekick Books, 2017), A Map Called Home (Kitaab,  2018) and Modern English Poetry by Younger Indians (Sahitya Akademi, 2018).

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