By Anupama Mohan
A cat drinks my milk in the mornings
Often-mornings, I find the small packet of milk at my door
Where a cat has punctured
To let out the white ocean within.
It’s a mess, yes, but I don’t mind the cat sharing.
I sometimes just clean up and use the
leftover milk. I bet the cat doesn’t mind.
The man next door – he doesn’t like it.
He spoke to me when I crossed him by the elevator:
I crossed him. He was cross.
“Why do you not pick up your paper?”
Why do you not pick up your milk? That cat makes a mess.”
Oh last night’s sex tired me out – I didn’t wake up in time.
But I said – sorry, I woke up at 10 and forgot about the paper.
Forgot about anything other than what I had to write.
Forgot the coffee. No, not the coffee.
I told the cross man that I woke up to drink coffee,
Then I wrote for two hours straight.
In those two hours, I forgot the paper and the milk,
Which the cat didn’t, and obviously,
His eye by the hole in the door didn’t either.
He looked at me unimpressed. You wrote and you forgot,
Or did you forget and then write?
He expected an order to my disorder,
And well, he is not wrong – I did forget and I did write,
and when I wrote, I forgot some more,
and when I forgot, I wrote some more.
Life is a concatenation of habits:
He watches, I forget; he notes, I write;
he scratches the surface of things; I assemble the scab.
At least, the cat, I hope, is grateful.
When we remember
My breasts are heavy with your absence,
Your head upon it no longer hears
the cave beneath, where bats
steal night-treats to nibble by day,
memory like a ripe fig,
sweet as sheep’s blood,
plaintive to the sharp teeth, and to the sudden
bite, my skin
crumples as folds of time do
when we remember.
The other day,
I was felled like a mighty oak
by a final thwack be:
an all-splintering annihilation
coursing through skies,
making forest jump:
out of sylvan skin,
for all was – was it not? –
that day, so ordinary:
and why should it not be?
The world still revolved
And all was to all what it was.
Only I stood, stupefied,
Heart sliced clean,
A raging wound burned:
all manner of ordinary gone!
Forever, and how could it thence
Be as it ever was, ever was?
Only I. Only I stood,
and my one thought fled to you,
like last breath living:
Only I. Only you.
Anupama Mohan teaches English at Presidency University, Kolkata. She is the writer of Twenty Odd Love Poems (The Writers’ Workshop, 2008) and an academic monograph on South Asian literary history (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012). Her short stories have featured in online and print publications like Postcolonial Text, University of Toronto Magazine, and Cafe Dissensus. You can follow more of her work here.
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Read the latest issue of Cafe Dissensus Magazine on ‘Travel: Cities, Places, People’, edited by Nishi Pulugurtha, academic, Kolkata, India.