It started with matchboxes. On my first collectible I
Recall a black ship sailing, so on the second, its twin found
En route to school. I traded in duplicates. With time,
Memorabilia changed to notebooks. I collected in between:
Eagle’s feathers, shiny wrapping paper, phone numbers,
Magnets, and all those letters addressed to you. Rhyming
Billets-doux, confessionals, pieces of my mind and heart
Engraved in red: ink feelings spilling over the borders.
Realizing that age calls for gravity, it was pebbles
That I started collecting, from everywhere I travelled. I
Had this glorious vision of an old woman me,
Insoluble by a grey sea, skipping stones at dawn.
Sacrilegiously I have packed away the thingamajigs. In
Memories I trade, to deserted islands I ship them away.
En fete, I made a bonfire with the fire hoarded inside
Matchboxes and those letters to send smoke signals your way.
Evocative objects these feathers, names of streets have
No real use, they are not magic spells. Penchants
Turn redundant before she who collects souls.
Objects with my fingerprint, address, phone number,
My name: nothing will pin me to this earth. Death catches
Our souls with a butterfly net. The pebbles I gave back to the
River. At its bottom, my collection grows, grows moss.
I collect boulders now, all things that have weight…
this evening my memory turned translucent
like the bloom of moon jellyfish
we saw behind glass, exactly ten years ago
in an aquarium swim-dreaming neon
or, like the other time, I cannot remember
exactly how long ago, but you were toe-digging
sand on a summer holiday when the coastline
turned plasma out of the slush blue because there
it was trapped, pinned with broken bits of sea-shells
cushioned in brine, dead but refusing to decay
closer home, translucent like the used plastic bag
you let go from your hand yesterday unnoticed
now circling over some ocean yearning to hold
water over the wind mirroring tide swells
I said paper-planes
tied to a string from my curtain rod
looks evocative and invites the wind
You said take them down,
unfold paper wings, write letters
on the creases, and post them in the morning
RL POETRY AWARD 2013 Winner – 2
© 2013 Sohini Basak. First published by RædLeafPoetry-India 2013.
Republishing Rights to be obtained from both the Poet and RædLeafPoetry-India 2013