Jul/Aug 2018 Poetry


by Babitha Marina Justin

Image courtesy of British Library Photostream

Image courtesy of British Library Photostream


We looked at Oscar—
Calm, how he swam
moving his golden
gills underwater.

The house was haunted
by life-size pictures—
the boy who breathed
on memory's walls, photogenic.

His father talked of pets,
banks and returning to
work; he mixed his grief
with a vacuous mirth,
stirred lemonade and soda
while eyeing his wife
who had shrunk to her girlhood;
silent and defeated.

When her son asked her look at him closely
she felt love rising like dough,
kissed him one last time
before he sped to his death.
Thereafter, she sought him in
the haunting smiles on her wall.

It is six months now, his smile grows
like ivy, in albums, crawling
in every sad fissure of the house.

Oscar swims like god:
burnished in gold,
he has eaten all the small fish,
and terrorized the bigger ones;
at times, he attacks them in rage.

Not long ago, the boy gifted Oscar
to his mother. And now, he swims invincible
in the undertow of her grief.


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