Poetry 2018 Longlist, Swatilekha Roy


Today is cleaning day.

After procrastinating far too long,

The layer of dust has become impossible

To ignore.

With a vacuum cleaner, allergy mask and determination,

I start with old magazines, stagnant with clichéd health tips,

Paparazzi, places-to-see-with-your-special-one, nanny ads and,

Blind hopes

Of print worthy life, newspapers glossy with falsehood,

Mites on the dank wood. In me.

On undoing the closet, a putrid smell of the dead arrests me-

Bats. History.

I rummage through years of acquired

Dirt and ghosts of a mirrored past,

Stuffed in a corner, away from the circle of pretense.

A picture of a sunny eyed couple, with much too happiness to restrain

In the minuscule frame.

Christmas savings, baby shoes, gift wraps,

A necklace which isn’t mine

And night club masques, maybe,

We have been wearing those, but never realized.


All this time, we are struggling to keep what isn’t ours-

The hope, the marriage, the baby

That never comes. And reality. Secrets.

Not ours, none of it,

Only yours. Only mine.

This dust is testimony.

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