On Building a Shell by Yashasvi
H O M E
The word made of four letters
that tastes like mushroom soup
on a cool evening
and leaves you with a belly
full of cosy
I hear hermit crabs
have temporary homes
and when they outgrow one
they look for another ideal place
to find shelter and build a home
they sometimes even add decorations like sea anemones
I think of all the animals that carry their homes on their backs
Turtles, tortoises, snails
Their lamp of cosy that they can quickly turn on
when they need light and warmth
I wonder what their shells are made of
What do they have inside?
Google tells me it is bones and keratin
I wonder if they also have curtains of memories
and drawers full of joy
I think of all that feels like a sip of chai at the end of an exhausting day
as the warm familiar liquid makes it way to my belly, lighting up every
nook and cranny it touches
Tejal’s warm photographs of light
Mom’s crisp kokis
airy pockets of a good croissant
screeching voices of my students
stories that reside in books
my reading thoughts left to linger between lines
imaginary conversations with characters
the dancing light that comes visiting
cups of tea
photographs, stories, glimpses of life on instagram
the time spent staring at books in the library
conversations with the sea
I am gathering these bricks and bones,
these fragments of memories,
moments, places and people
to build my shell
to make me a home
to sew my
tapestry of homeliness
i make the bed
and make it again because
i can't find the body shaped dent i left
in the upper-left corner over four years of high school.
instead i climb into the sheets like a gun in a glove box, all too heavily,
if i fit at all.
and in a week, i settle in,
i excavate the dent and the room smells like
lemongrass and coconut once more
and all the books i need to finish reading
stare me down
everyday from my desk
next to my windmill i whisper wishes to.
but now it's time
guess that's home for you.
i can read your identity
from footsteps afar
twice a knock &
dad here you are
mom, you eavesdrop a lot
& bring barfi filled jars
sprinkle your warmth
while i put on bizzare
you've upholded me thru
my irrational avatars
home is where bhai feeds
my cravings chocolate bars
my home's located in a
heart & we are
souls waiting to
home is to be sung on
my awful strings of guitar
home is a home
wherever you all are
you have written countless poems
about home and it is clear now
that it doesn’t concern cement
and walls as much as it is
instead your very heart -
your home is your heart –
you live in it so entirely,
and it is a marvel that it hasn’t
burst out of your ribs yet,
and in this heart live all your darlings
and sometimes it closes in and
disallows them the space to wander
freely but mostly they flower merrily
and sometimes it feels as if
you absolutely cannot admit
one more person into your heart,
for there is simply no space,
for there is so much love inside of you
and it presses up against the flesh
like a little nose against a foggy
windowpane and it is so heavy
and your body so light and it is all
almost impossible to bear and in your
journal, on almost every other page,
the words “heart hurts” are wearily
scrawled and when she asks you
how long, how long until you
meet again, not even one of your
fantastical calculations can
provide an answer and so
your only consolation remains
that in your memories you will meet
again and again, and moon beams
will dart through the both of you
again and again and you will continue
to “poet” and she will continue
to “sing”, in your heart,
in your home.
My grandmother forgets.
she walks out of the front gate, saying she is going home
she talks of a place, not here, where she has now lived for years.
walking out of the only home she had ever known,
the one my grandfather and she had built:
the two trees of coconut on the sides of the old house,
the ones that grandma planted years ago when they had first arrived at this plot,
look, as if in desolation
as the only home they had known forever now, walks out of her own house.
They say it is the disease; she walks out saying she doesn’t want to live here anymore
confused and frustrated at what she cannot understand, yes, she forgets. I walk behind her, ask her to come back
But she is going home, she says.
So, I walk beside her, ask her about this home she has
We walk across the busy roads and bewildered stares
the tall serious looking houses making way
and my grandmother’s neck perked up, eyes searching for the one that "looks like
home", as they say.
On the way she tells me that she has gone through a lot of pain
she says how all she ever did was give herself
and I silently nod beside her. Somethings one can never forget.
On the way I notice a black feather lying on the dusty road;
they say feathers bring good luck, I hope the bird whose feather now lies here trampled on by rubber tyres
found her home too.
We walk on for a few minutes more, in the autumn afternoon
sunrays racing through the clouds, the dust dancing in air;
I tell grandma, we’ve come the wrong way
and she turns back like a little child, lost in a stranger world,
and we walk back the way we came.
It’s almost like walking down memory lane, except
memory doesn’t live here anymore.
In her mind I think I see all the memories
line up in wicker
and as she reaches out to hold them
they crumble in her hands
like the biscuits that use to drop into my tea
on an autumn afternoon
when I sat on my grandmother’s porch
sipping on our favorite memories,
All roads lead home.
My little Alan, hold me tight,
Don't be scared of waters or the night sky,
The shore is close,
So is warm kalaneh, kuki and paklawa
See your brother making faces at you,
Yes, there are baby sharks under the boat
But they are hugging their mothers just like us,
Nothing to fear, my precious pearl,
I will be here and on the other side too.
But, Ammi! why are there tears in your eyes?
Are you scared just like others?
No,my love. These are happy tears.
Thank you Allah! we are together and alive.
Read all the poems by following #thealiporepostpoetrymonth