Poetry: Prachi Kholia

Prachi Kholia
Ghost of a Past Reborn

They are not just fighting the fire. 
You know, in the rubble
The way to locate the dead 
Is through the smell.
It’s nothing like anything 
He said he felt like an animal, sniffing.
Another had already been burning 
For a while.
There was still food 
On the table
And one could see
The resemblance of a home 
In the pictures, the toys, 
The broken windows.
An old woman was sweeping outside 
“Stay well, boys!”, she shouted.

The new school is closed now 
But the children had water 
And warm food. 
It turned grey and ash and dust;
First came the steady sound 
Of a rumbling cloud, 
And then,
Then they struck.
Twice in the front court,
One at the back. 
Inside, they lay down
The little ones 
With their cheek to the floor
Crouched on all fours.
It flew over. He said,
“It’s over. Let’s go.”

At a food distribution point
After the shelling 
Of the day before
Bricks are scattered in the yard,
And loaves of bread 
On the ground. 
But she is on time 
Like every other day
Cleaning up, checking inventory,
Making sure it’s okay.
At times, she is angry 
At times, her gaze wandered off. 
But with a hardened look 
Of everyday life on her face, 
She said, “They keep coming for help. 
That’s why we keep going to work.”

At the front, time is slow
But they have to be quick. 
Day after day, 
The bloody mess catches pace.
It never stays quiet for long.
The twenty years old 
He’s a soldier now
Fighting for the inches,
For the ruins, the houses torn.
Their walls have been opened 
Like a doll house.
The middle aged office worker
Yes, he is volunteering too.
How can he not? Someone needs to.
His little girl cries out after him,
“Dad, don’t go away. Dad, stay!”
***


I see Red

I see you red.
I know you are waiting. 
After the rampant chaos 
I see you behind the flames.
Rain cannot wash you clean
I see red, low and below.
Red like hell fire, I see you.
On the hands that lift you up,
On the seeds that you sow.
I see you waiting. 
I see red.
***


A secret disease

I could see myself in her body 
Feel the cold tiles under her knee.

It is not about vanity as they believe
Not appearance but control, 
Not image but self-esteem, 
Not about you but me.

Giving up on people is easy
But don't give up and say, ‘crazy’!
It was not your fault, I want to tell her
Just as I repeat it for me.

I could see myself in her body 
Feel the cold tiles under her knee.


Note: The title of the poem is "a secret disease" as Princess Diana calls it in her 1995 Martin Bashir interview for BBC.
***

Prachi Kholia is currently pursuing her Ph.D. from the University of Lucknow. Her works have previously been published in literary publications like Trouvaille Review, Rhetorica Quarterly, The Chamber Magazine and Dreich Chapbook.age_internal

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