Poetry 2018 Longlist, Paul Avish


Haven’t we disappeared looking up at December skies

Like whispers left on hollow paddy fields?


When shadows of the jatinga rose from the fog of our yards

And flew into the moon, disenchanted,

Haven’t we read poems in the halo of fireflies

And fed on the ones that burrowed into our hearts – and stayed?


Like harvest-mice, haven’t we curled up in the warmth of snakeskin

That had been shed over a winter sleep?


Haven’t we drowned that girl (hyacinths trapped in her hair),

Forever afloat like her undone smile in the mires of our dreams,

To be nibbled by tadpoles of Silence?


Like tall Kans grass, haven’t we lost those children inside us?

Do they still believe it’s an endless game of hide-n-seek?


Haven’t we vowed to stay hidden under the stairs of our frail lives

Like sugar-ants in jaggery jars?


And in twilight-feathers of roaches that never left our shadows,

Haven’t we aged, and died?

Filling our eyes with stars of Vishakha that once hung so close

But were never there?


Haven’t we done those things we once never did?

Have we?

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