Five Poems

Mihir Vatsa

Mihir Vatsa is the author of the poetry collection Painting That Red Circle White (Authors Press 2014). He grew up in Jharkhand and studied English at University of Delhi. He is the winner of the Srinivas Rayaprol Poetry Prize and an award in Writing from Toto Funds the Arts, Bangalore. He works in the field of heritage conservation in Hazaribagh, his hometown, and edits poetry for VAYAVYA.

Lesson

When it’s fishing that you teach —
in the pool, carps wait for a destiny
so different from the one
we know on the land.

Teacher, I am not sure
I want them coming to me like prisoners,
so I’ve started picking up sand instead.
It doesn’t flip in my palm.
The grip is smooth. Besides,

I know it. I know there’s silica.
I know there’s gypsum.
A couple more minerals the fish
have never heard of.

During summer, when water recedes
to the level of mud, leaving the fish
dry and dead like tragic insects in the morning,
I know it breaks a heart to watch
a dream collapse from the sky.

And in the night, when ghosts
leave their temples, I close my eyes
and walk on a beach.

So much sand that infinity seems real.
But sometimes,

water invades with its creatures.
They swim to the surface and tell me
about assignments unfinished.

Catch me. Take me to the class.

I hear them in your voice
and follow close, suspicious—

with steps not yet firm.

***

Present

Say i make a wish for a gift.
A hard tangible box wrapped
and shining like happiness

even if empty.
Times like this, it’s appearance that matters.

Soon the box is an occupation.
I have taken to scratching
the sticker off the cardboard.

Tomorrow i will rough up
the corners. Delay the arrival

at nothingness.

If i told you i’ve stopped
looking for serendipity in hollows
and you know i’m lying

but play along —

dear need, vulnerability claws
at the skin but is simple. It lives in
the present. And i am not ready
for your game yet,

however sure and
heavy my reward.

 ***

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