Winter Submission by Shalini Maiti
The snow in my country does not submit
To the winter sun.
It melts but refuses to become water,
Instead, it slithers and takes over the surfaces of lakes and roads
A millimeter at a time.
You have never seen anything more soft and pliable
than the blanket of snow on our winter mornings,
But, don't worry,
its heart is buried in the bed rock.
The snow in my country bends to no god.
Ataraxia by Andronicus Aden
When the sky is bare as a dead man's mind,
I hear the remnant echoes of birds,
that haunt like happy memories.
I shed my hair and my past
like russet leaves and moss.
I invoke God's ghost to witness
my bare sinews and blue veins,
spreading as gnarled boughs
embroidered so richly into the cold.
I smell nothing and feel nothing;
my bare toes are as blue as juniper berries.
But I tread on, alone
amidst a forest where people
discard their regrets like old coats.
They rot and rot, with the leaves.
Bereft of flowers,
bees starve and so do I.
Some curl into a spell and fall
as ink drops too frozen to seep
into the white.
What do we hold on to,
when nothing sustains?
Impermanence settles like frost,
only to melt away at dawn.
The Blue Fog by Priyanka Kapoor
The blue fog,
a twist upon Prufrock’s (neck),
inside the window,
and then his vest,
where this creature silent
in the cosmic space of bodily atoms and luminescent in the dark of
both color and sound,
moved like departed spirits.
The blue fog,
burning like the liver of a dying candle, swept the terrain
like a deep-sea antler.
The blue fog,
rose against seasoned flowers of the heart and entered us into the winters.
Snow by Feryal Ahmed
The scent of cherry lurks in the air long after the sun goes down : do you know how the fruit hides behind the light peeking out with half an eye craning to look at you?
That day I had been sitting in the garden, a flurry of black birds shot past me to the sky, through my half shut eyes I thought that they were school boys running: later they brought your brother home for the last time, and he was colder than the snow.
Faris I had almost forgotten how the snow falls like a thousand pennies rushing to your eyes, a soft river of dust, or a rope with many many mouths: only last night the snow tore the night sharply into soundlessness and sound, it kept sliding off the roof, hitting the ground with a big thud, and in the morning my mother always, like your mother, was clearing the snow from the kitchen door to keep the running children from falling more.
We were those children once.
Do you remember running out to the sea that hung to the curb of the house and how running felt like flying? The birds waited on the roof for the sky to clear, hungry cats lurked around the houses, for food, like dogs: it is lonely now to have no prayers and hear the snow fall, to see the fig trees shine with snow on their arms, bent in surrender like they never bore fruit.
(Birds, up and down they go
Endless quiet in the snow
Marquez is a Dastan-go
Marquez is a Dastan-go)
It is lonely, having laughed at the gilded butterflies, to cling to the odd days of color: it would be lonely, for you and for me, don't you think, to shout to the farthest part of sky, a callous net of birds and words
(At night, the lantern light is low
We sit near fire, time goes slow
Marquez is a Dastaan-go
Marquez is a Dastaan-go)
A callous net of song, of a summer aging in our arms: of a night where black fras hang tall in the distance like a group of elders narrating stories of old winter days, gulrez. What will become of scattered flowers and will the garden only bloom in ways we don't recognise?
(A war of words, a crushing fight
A war of words, a crushing fight
A young boy swimming to the sea at night)
Here, now, we watch the night, not of joy or sorrow but of the quiet bring in the mist. When snow starts falling again, the night seems very large, we don't know much of what falls, our hands have not seen it : the quiet of all the years gathers in the air as if there is nothing more to know, as if there will never be anything else to know again.
Cold by Antara Mukherjee
Snuggled under the spell
of the Doordarshan newsreader
who only looked at me,
I first felt the adult flush
of a Cold War
chattering the stormy newsclip
transmitted from the snow-blinded USA and USSR
which tinkled and drifted
the two ice-cubes
floating in my synthetic orange drink.
Soon after, marooned bare on a glacial ice slab
licensed to bring me back
from a fever burning 226 Fahrenheit
I had tasted foreign at the age of eleven
That careening through a coldness so hostile on your skin
the bone-deep chills dawning a winter on any spring.
But when the Roja girl blinked her wonder at the snow-capped peaks
with a fistful snow melting her sweet diffidence
a thrill, rippling red my cold sweat pores,
strictly embargoed in my home
with radioactive threats
and a wintry silence
the coldness of a war.
Many moons later under a holidaying sun
heckled by two guards at the Smithsonian Museum
I saw my breath fogging under those icicle stares—
daggered once between Bush and Gorbachev
foretelling the days
—a frozen glass lake.
So when Neil Gaiman asks,
“What you need to be warm?” this winter
that stares the cold-footed Syrian refugees stranded for a state
I have one thing to say:
Winter is always cold.
Fantasy by Zubia Nasir
People who have never seen snow
fall from the sky
have this exquisite imagination about it
as if the white diamond dust
is something from beyond fairy-tales.
My mother who lives in the plains
yearns for it to snow in the desolate winter
of her town.
She worked tirelessly throughout the sweltering summer.
There is a reason why winter in the subtropical plains
is also the season of longing.
When I first showed her what a snowflake looks like,
on the caustic screen of my smartphone
she had the exhilaration people reserve for other things in life
like winning a prize or being told I love you.
I tell her I’ll take her to the mountains one day
wrapped in feathery blankets of snow, and she smiles.
Fear also accompanies
my mother’s longing for snowfall.
She wishes it out loud and then dismisses it
as if seeing the snow is like Alice going to wonderland.
It’s just a fantasy.
Sometimes I think my mother felt the same way
about something, the way she feels about snow.
And when she had finally seen that snow
it wasn’t as magnificent
as the reverie of it she had conjured up.
And I think it broke her heart.
Her longing for snow now
is so constrained in expression
like a snowflake.
Six Hot Pot by Pratiksha Salimath
The empty tables at the
Six Hot Pot
Invite me lovingly,
Warm broth simmering
in Silence, gentle chatter
Of families sharing a
Meal, meat being cooked
In hot pot, slurping of
Noodles, crab cakes.
I look longingly at the
Table for six, a picture:
A mother straightens
A little girl’s hair, brother
Blows drink out of
I feel my cheek turning
Again, wind reminding
Me of a snow forecast
For later today.
How many years
Till I form my own tribe
If only to share a bowl
Of one Hot Pot ?
An Ember in Cold by Mereena Eappen
I looked out of the French oak window
that stood alone in the room
with reindeers and chandeliers
hung along the pleats of its snowy curtains.
Another frostier day out,
trees far away stayed like narrow lines drawn in the sky
our weird snowman ‘Teddy’
is half sleepy yet,
without his boots and a proper black cap
father cleared the snow covered passages.
The little snowbird hopped with ecstasy,
that stirred up my foggy mind to a rhapsody.
Aroma of a winter berry pie half-cooked
invoked my taste buds and
I no longer stayed in my warm cozy bed.
To espy the desiccated berries
was always a fun and they were once swollen with juice.
I stepped outside in my puffer jacket, felt the shiver on my face
when snowflakes touched my nose
I hurried back to decorate the Christmas tree
with handful of red, golden, blue bells and lights.
“Make a wish” yelled my little brother,
with my frosted lips I wish If I could be an ember in cold.
About the poets:
Priyanka Kapoor works at the Vedica Writing Center for The Vedica Scholars Programme for Women. She has a Masters in English Literature from Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University. She has been published on platforms such as The Indian Quarterly, Hakara, Voice and Verse Poetry Magazine, The Showbear Family Circus. She has been shortlisted for R.L. Poetry Award and The Brooklyn Poets' Fellowship. Recently, she was published in the Yearbook of Indian Poetry in English (2020-21) (edited by Sukrita Paul and Vinita Agrawal). You can follow her on Instagram @muse_ministry
Antara Mukherjee is a writer with a Master’s in English Literature and has worked as a communication professional for several years. Her short stories and poems have appeared in Kitaab, Sahitya Akademi, Muse India, Joao-Roque Literary Journal, Usawa Literary Review, The Chakkar, Teesta Review and Verse of Silence, among others. In 2020, her short story was the winner of 'All India Literature Competition’ hosted by Anthelion School of Arts. She has co-written a playscript for a local theatre group in Bangalore which will be staged in Bangalore International Centre in 2022.
Mereena Eappen is a Ph.D. scholar in English Literature from Kerala, India. Her passion for poetry and painting ease her life. Poems on nature, life and renowned personalities are her area of interest. You can read Mereena's work on Instagram @mereena.grace
Shalini Maiti: Computer scientist. Aesthete. Hobby writer. When not huddled over a laptop, would most likely be found devouring something delicious. Lives dangerously on the precipice of fiction and reality. You can read her work on Gaysi, and follow her on Instagram @shalini_maiti
Zubia is an engineering undergraduate who is fascinated by science, literature, poetry, and little insects on house plants, among various other things. Some day she might even let other people read the scribbles in her hundred notebooks.
Andronicus Aden recently completed his M.Phil. in English from Jadavpur University, Kolkata. Born in Kalimpong but raised in Kurseong and Darjeeling, he has attempted, albeit poorly, to translate the melancholic language of the hills. He believes in the integrity of art and therefore, doesn’t believe in forcing poems and paintings out like a fur ball. As a result, he writes and paints occasionally. His hobbies include twilight walks, avoiding acquaintances, landscape painting, burning letters and aggressive gardening. He divides his time between Kolkata and Kalimpong, balancing between peaceful self-isolationism and madness.
Pratiksha (@pratikshasalimath) is a software engineer, poet, writer based out of Boston. She enjoys writing poetry and has a monthly newsletter: Thursday on a Thursday.
Feryal is doing MA in English at Jamia Millia Islamia. She loves reading and writing poetry. You can read her piece on The Bastion.