Poetry from A. Anupama
I said, All boredom ends when you are dead.
Go ahead, worry the stones off the sill, walk the ridge and
push pillars down with a long stick. A century of rain can
wear away the words at the bottom of each monument.
You noticed, yes, you did, that the punch-lines are missing.
But you might get taller than the monuments
commemorating miles, words. Are you bored yet?
Dig the old fortresses out, excavate carefully around the walls
and broken pottery for the spear-points and coins in your mind.
You ask, and I could say it was the rain that buried it.
But the oaks have dropped more acorns here than I
could ever collect, measure, and estimate across time.
Pocket an acorn cap, and we could ascertain its volume,
the level of boredom increasing to a quantifiable level,
which we could decant into casks called memory.
Don’t worry, it sweetens into whiskey before you die.
You make your face at it now: both whiskey and death,
bitter thoughts. But I mean the feeling, not the taste.
And why do I even tell you, when I could ask
is your work done well? Well, it is never done
while you live, my son.
Instructions for my sister
Our ship is rowing
upon the surface of the moon
lying in the waters,
and that which catches our oars
must be the laurel growing in the moon.
—from The Tosa Diary by Ki no Tsurayuki, transl. Earl Miner
Calmly put your oars on the table.
Walk to the right side of the stage.
Steps live in memory forever
especially the beloved’s steps across the stage.
Arguments with time must end in time.
Even the black dog chasing
dawn says so.
Walk back to the dressing rooms with me?
We’d hear the roof laughing at rain again.
She does not speak across
the monsoon mud.
Early in the morning,
it’s only goats running to the market.
Phonemes show no reflective faces.
The sick day
next to the slow cooker
next to the kitchen scale
next to the wall
where she opened a page of those yellow submarine post-its
and placed one square on her chest:
this is the where the sun should wrap an extra-long ace bandage, she wrote
then put the crayon back.
Spoons, keyrings, paperclips, and medicine thimbles shivered
when she slammed the drawer shut and that rainbow skittered across her back
as she turned away
broken crystal beaming like oyster shells on the sill
Putting the ice pack back
to chill again in the freezer door is the chore
for the eight-year-old while her teen brother experiments with the griddle temperature
against a stack of grilled cheese.
The floor gets slippery near the dog’s water bowl, but luckily
we know these habits.
We love them.
Yes, it is a moon
even in the sky while you
walk to school up the big
hill. Someone is saying
a morning affirmation in the
white house with mansard roof
while fog burns dawn a little bit louder.
She’s drawn an Abbey Road for herself to cross with her friends:
Dream, Stubbornness, and Milk.
After she tears it out of
her notebook and pins it
on the corkboard, she
notices her earring
next to her foot, next to
the rough yellow curb she’d pressed on
in spite of her second thoughts.
Claymation skills preferred
they wrote on the Au Pair advertisement, and then laughed
like Suite Judy Blue Eyes.
One took the sour gummies and the tub of sugary ginger up to her.
She may have noticed, even
as lost in the sound rebound,
the laughter ricochet, the carom
of the sum of love.
A. Anupama is a poet, critic, essayist, and translator whose work has appeared in Drunken Boat, Waxwing, Fourteen Hills, CutBank, Numéro Cinq, and elsewhere. She is an adjunct professor at Ramapo College, director of River River Writers Circle (RiverRiver.org), and creative writing instructor for kids and teens at Writopia Lab. A graduate of Vermont College of Fine Arts and Northwestern University, her recent honors include a Pushcart Prize nomination and a fellowship at the Center for Book Arts in NYC. Anupama lives with her family in Nyack, New York. More about her work at Seranam.com.