When they were small, I’d line them up
before we’d go into the grocery store,
spit on a tissue and wipe their faces,
straighten their hair, inspect.
They say now I was marking them.
I’ve watched how ravens raise theirs.
By fall, big enough to fly for an hour,
the parents lead the grown ones
away from the nest up the mountain forest
as they squawk and loop,
following to a new silence.
The old book of cobbled myths
prescribes how fathers
should rub the newborns with salt.
The patriarchs dictated,
they must mark the children,
perform the ritual
as a sign of their covenant with god,
disinfect the corrupt tendencies of the heart,
so that the child would be truthful.
But it is no guarantee.
Though you believe they never will,
when they lie to you the first time,
you ache as though you’ve been cut,
as though something has broken,
never thinking you could ever close
such a wound.
You try to construct the lesson of forgiveness.
You think for days
that it is a fault of your own making.
But the lies are critical,
it is the way we learn to forgive,
the way we learn
that our eyes give us away.
After my father’s third wife left him, he tacked up a paper target onto the center of the cathode ray credenza and pegged a picture of my latest step-mother over it. He towed the fridge into the sitting room, packed with Pabst. Beside it was a cinder block-sized container of BB pellets for his pump action rifle.
From an inflatable arm chair he took aim and shucked beers until the picture was pulp and the vacant cans were an avant-garde sculpture. I came out of my room to use the bathroom when an errant BB whanged off the television’s curved glass, struck me in my solar-plexus and fell harmlessly to the floor.
I never told anyone, but for a while I thought I was bulletproof. My father wasn’t. He let things get to him too easily. But genetic inheritance is hard to hide. Hollow-points ricocheted off Superman’s pupils. Lois Lane’s devotion never wavered. My action figurine bulged with immutable, plastic muscles.
Decades later, when my fiancée broke up with me, I thought about my father, dead from a discharge through his ear lobe more potent than a BB. If I pinched the same trigger he had, would the bullet still bounce off?
Where do you form, irony, to then become formless?
What whistles these are, from disintegrated yokes afar?
Fourteenth century subjugation, still prepared for trade
A hankering globe feeds on soluble and insoluble fibre,
O prodigal atoms of billowy attestation.
An undulant weather is characteristic of rectified revisions
Continents and natural components perish simultaneously,
What well behaved skin of decorum, unwatched, undresses?
A lexicographer could coat tribes in cycles of gestations
Hence sap inside barks must be both; reminders and properties
The wonder, a superficial matter camouflage of damp interiors,
Now, I will listen to them through mutations of my speech,
I will unlearn their ghastly spells when graveyards un-disguise,
The world communicates, where were you born, are headed to?
Leaves stiffen as they are spread out on bare grounds, everyplace —
These fitful events.
The exact value who can decipher? Value vexes fathomless froth.
Death descends upon a clear birthed moment while it undrapes
over a carcass,
companions and boots,
Death fetches and encourages filtered fibres of breaths.
Sneha Subramanian Kanta
Sneha Subramanian Kanta is pursuing her second postgraduate degree in literature at the United Kingdom and has been awarded the GREAT scholarship. Her work has appeared or is to appear in Ann Arbor Review (MI, USA), The Rain, Party & Disaster Society (USA) and in poetry anthologies such as Dance of the Peacock (Hidden Brook Press, Canada), Suvarnarekha (The Poetry Society of India, India) and elsewhere.