Today my gut is squashed-blackberry rotting on sidewalk.
I want to say purple or spilled but I keep swallowing Bruise.
And perhaps it is indigestion or constipated grief
But it has valleyed into sour harvest and, besides the hedging,
I am not doing a damn thing to clean up this rot.
Today I am reaping valor in futuring my own decay.
I like to believe that I am mothering it, this decay.
That I found it, abandoned, on some dingy sidewalk,
That I didn’t have the heart to leave it laying in the rot,
That I chose it, it chose me, and I brought it home, this bruise.
I am swaddling it and feeding it ripe cherries and hedging
A fence around its heart so it doesn’t fossilize to grief.
The OED marks obsolete all meanings of the word grief.
Suggesting: for lack of evidence the word is in decay.
To say that this very morning, as I found myself hedging
against the bile come up my throat directly onto sidewalk,
apologizing to strangers for spilling my invisible bruise,
Grief seemed to be the only way to language this rot?
It is known that radiation turns poisonous when it starts to rot.
Say when they first drop the bombs: it is grief,
When your children play in its snowfall: a bruise,
When you give birth to a grape or an octopus: decay.
I don’t know where to begin cleaning up: soiled sidewalk
in a body fissuring to waste beside immaculate hedging.
For this reason, I must begin with the hedge.
It stands so prepared, dressed so well, to witness my rot.
So confidently a part of and apart from this sidewalk.
Under it, too, lay vines smothered in grief.
Yet, it sits on its florid, nauseating throne of decay,
And I stutter apologies around my lacerated bruise.
I want to say purple or spilled and I keep swallowing bruise
Because I am trying to say it’s in the hedging:
In it soured the greed and apathy. It is decay
that they seed the poison, the bombs, the rot
then leave it all outside and abandon grief.
All you are left with is uninhabitable sidewalk.
So I am staying with decay and excavating the bruise,
I am hacking at both sidewalk and hedging,
And I am calling it rot but I mean: Grief. Grief. Grief.
LET’S SAY THAT UNKINDNESS, TOO,
Let’s say that unkindness, too,
can wear the look of care.
Say one in the hand, is
worth two in the bush.
In these cherry-stained grasslands,
sincerity makes heady promises.
In rage I lemon-ball your eye,
find: an emerald glacier in pre-melt rest.
Say, hospitality looks different house by house,
house by house, I lose my grounding.
In the yellow one, all the tables are too tall;
my elbows a little skinned after dinner.
In the blue one time passes so quickly
I am always at angles with the furniture.
This year, everything lays within measure.
The whole house rolled out foot by foot.
I enter the room, piles of folded clothes
line the floor. Say, this too is
An unkindness. On an August night,
with all the loves of my life
stoking a makeshift campfire,
I no longer thirst for gardenias.
I peel the floorboards, find marigolds
shrining a pilgrimage of ant-hills.
Despite basal tears over tonsured hair,
I now write of the Hawthorne
Docks in a baptismal way. Say, unkindness dissolves
into kindness in the image of Home.
House by house, I dander into couches and
fall to the skin of so many cabinets.
Nanya Jhingran is a poet, scholar & community organizer from Lucknow, India currently living in Seattle, WA. Her work has appeared in Cathexis Northwest Press and is forthcoming in The Crossing and TRACK//FOUR. She holds an MA in Literature from the University of Washington-Seattle where she is now working on her PhD. When not reading books or writing poems, she is found cooking large meals for friends and chasing her cat, Masala, around the house. Twitter: @nanya_biznes