Sunday 15 August 2021

Usha Amulya, Poetry 2021 Shortlist


Dusted archives & vaulted remains

"Circa 324" reads the stone tablet,

Behold the emperor, retold his sonnet,

Daggers down, stood the warrior poised,

Deciphers the curator, his voice bruised.

The armour, a thousand smelten ingots,

Inlaid rings, motifs of his strife in knots,

Golden coffers, his iron throne proclaimed;

Soiled sandals and territories claimed.

" Salve!" i count the plums on the porcelain,

" Salve!" i gaze at the peony tapering within,

" Salve. quid vis?" I turn, yammering unbridled,

The brass casket to the left spiralled,

"11:11" the ticking ancient dial reads,

Leaving the museum, bemused, i tread.

Fastening the window, i draw the shades on;

For tis blinding light, flashes upon,

Due past 10 days, warns the withered card,

I alight the stairs to the library, jarred.

I turn-in the card, its dues unpaid,

" Salve, salve!" the calls deluge,

Down the aisle of the scrolls refuge,

Dusted runes, i read the chronicles dismayed.

" Salve, salve" the calls reverberate,

Quivering, i unroll the sealed scroll,

Someone seizes my hand, tugging in control,

Alarmed i dart across, my eyes dilate.

The ceiling transmutes, the skies testify,

Twilight, the skylarks & swallows fly,

Clouded up above, the moon's grin,

Leaves the way for parade, chariots in,

Gaping, i smack my wrist crimson,

Startled, the horses rear up and halt,

The emperor & empress glance, guards risen.

Swiftly, curator slams the scroll & rolls,

Unfazed, yanks me out & censures,

" lady, do not venture the forbidden vaults,

Lest by heavens ordain, you shall remain,

In history's shackles, fettered rein."

I tread back to my room, muddled,

Unbolting the door, clearly befuddled,

The tea brews, "It's 12" the clock cuckoos,

I gaze aloft the sky, the heavens virtues,

The moon ascends the stairs ov'r the stars,

Beyond the cursed tombs, travails & scars.

I fill the rusted inkpen's cartridge,

For tonight, the ink's treads, rushed,

Stains the paper, crimson flushed,

Of the archives & chronicles unhushed.

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