Deepa Agarwal

Rookie (Almora, Uttarakhand, India)

Mother Dominica's Tranquil Square - Poem by Deepa Agarwal

In the tranquil square of memory
I play hopscotch
and master the art of throwing pebbles
accurately into the right space.
one-legged, I negotiate the trickery
of dividing lines
and cloister my small defeats
as deep as the shrapnel
a pink-faced nun
has sequestered somewhere.

All has been quiet on the Western front
for long now
its silence
contained in the incomplete square
whose corners frame
the tranquil face
that has interred
a mammoth
with such apparent ease
in a subterranean grotto
far removed from Mother Mary’s
benign gaze.

Till a friendly conversation about cats
blasts away the ice
and another square reveals itself.
A grave
tenanted with a
frozen block of memory
that unexpectedly vaporizes
in the heat of a distant land.

How easily a quisling spark
can insinuate itself
into innocent talk of cats
rout the comforting dark.
How hard to bury
a brother
who tormented cats once
grew up
to be swallowed by Mother Russia
while fighting for the fatherland.

(This poem was inspired by a phrase ‘the tranquil square of memory’ from Rukmini Bhaya Nair’s poem 'Intimations'.)

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Poem Submitted: Monday, May 2, 2011

Poem Edited: Wednesday, May 4, 2011

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