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Two Poems by Pratyusha Prakash

Starflowers

 

Three days after your death

I imagine meeting you 

in a tunnel, lit only by starflowers,

your breath a singing echo in this cave. 

There is an emptiness in this tunnel

filled with your breathing, 

palpable in serrated edges. 

You laughed it off,

we’ll make merry, 

some rum, Turkish delight,

 

you praying late, late at night.

I want small hymns inscribed

on ornaments. Perhaps rice pearls, 

they seem most appropriate

for the afterlife. 

 

Nobody tells me how much 

the act of breathing hurts

after a death. Traitor.

In these moments 

it’s the details that flash back to me,

your elbows pointed like cats’ ears, 

the one long strand of your hair inexplicably

caught on my coat on that freezing

February morning. Spring was bejewelled, 

too much to bear. I remember you

in honey, in old combs,

in the faded colours of clothes

hanging in the garden.

 

That summer, your last, 

you picked starflowers. 

 

 

The Greenhouse at Night

 

In the greenhouse by moonlight, 

the dark a gently trodden sea around us.

Shavings of silver draping themselves

over your eyebrows. A cat’s cradle of birches.

 

We sat for hours, I think,

scraping damp soil from beneath our fingernails,

talking little. I could never speak much

 

around you, I felt like I was swallowing dirt.

 

But to listen to you. A gleam, a flashlight

in the rooted dark. And yet,

how often you claimed it would not happen,

 

and I promised, shutting windows, that it wouldn’t.

 

It is as if I dreamed

the night in its whole sphere,

 

the purplish black of aged maps

 

licking around its edges.

 

I wished the night would swallow me whole.

I moved like a fish between seas,

the olive trees bending over my back,

their silver leaves absorbing moonlight.

 

Even now all I can think of is dark rain,

the slow blue gurgle of the river bed where 

I last met you.

 

 

Pratyusha Prakash studies English Literature at the University of Edinburgh and is currently Poetry Editor at The Missing Slate. Her poetry, literary translations and travel articles have appeared in numerous publications.

 

 

Image credit: Michaela Pereira

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