you wouldn’t be here to read this,
so I call this an elegy

Sneha Subramanian Kanta


                  after the death of my uncle

is the stroke of a baseball bat                  over a soft lump
of consciousness               resting as a pack of butterflies
                                                      weaving interludes of dreams

they would not allow you to go to school
                               you were different, they said

so you learnt to light             a mud lamp with gingelly oil after sundown
                        you inherited different ways   to appease gods

You used the river                                  instead of language
                               when did you become a temple
                               when did you become a shrine
                               when did you take the sun with you

in Hindu mythology                               they say after you die
             your eyes become the sun      your body  turns to mud

the pattam poochi learns         how to live a lifetime          in a night
                      they didn’t allow you to live as they did
                                            so you lived the way you knew—

why the rubber stamps why this obligation to learn language why
can’t a person hold their stomach and cry when it hurts instead of
holding a blank expression in their eyes as their intestines begin to swell
     because they did not learn to express   [ ]

appa told me you weighed heavy when they brought your dead body
            heavy as a forest of cypresses
            heavy with damp rain inside
            heavy with the teeth of vacant years

God knows                                   you don’t have to be a flower
                         |to be the altar of holy|

but lifts     the veil               of sky with rain
[                                      ] because God, too
                                   does not know a language
we would understand           so God speaks in seasons & dew & fronds

life is a diptych               we think we live        but there is that unseen chord
recording to its own accord  a wing-clipped nirvana often in the past tense

now I try to trace the exile                          in appa’s voice as he touches
dust on your bicycle
          the sun becomes dim without     you lighting a lamp.


Sneha Subramanian Kanta is a recipient of the Charles Wallace fellowship 2019 at the University of Stirling, Scotland. She is a GREAT scholarship awardee and has earned a second postgraduate degree in literature from England. She is the founding editor of Parentheses Journal and poetry reader for Palette Poetry.