Sneha Subramanian Kanta: two poems

ghosts illuminate

what a finite system dabs with repertoire. The earliest record of an illuminated manuscript was in the first millennium. These are also called gospel books. I imagine a traveler carrying a book into an unknown town. Say the book is an animal relic brought by another animal into a city. Paper was rare and usually made of parchment sheets derived from the skins of animals. Ghosts watch patrons shell out currency as more animals are hunted to make paper. As though bodies are replaceable as purchase. The first and most popular colour used was gold, which is reminiscent of kintsugi, a practice of the Japanese. There are at least three names for each different tincture used in the manuscripts. Ghosts witness colour drawn out of acid from the bodies of insects mixed with aluminum salt to produce dye. Imagine light as an exchange made out of every death. Ghosts revel in water and exhale a talisman of colour. Here the water is blue, inscribed as the inside of a medieval era manuscript. Spring wants nothing of you but memory. Ghosts gather in the hallway of flowers. Butterflies flutter over flowers. Fields stand in stoic silences like illuminated manuscripts, recounting the same story. One part often discussed at the end is how each manuscript was a token, or substitute of reading for illiterate members of society. I dream a painting where ghosts walk into a heliotrope garden in summer, and the canvas extends into winter, an image in which ghosts carry heliotropes into their hearts. Praise the skin, solvent into reliquaries of gold. The last song between a knell and harness, the fulguration.

ghosts with elegies of muscle

ghosts freckle silence
          into an obsidian stone

earth moves into small tissues
          in its seas & ruffles bones

deep in the seabed sediment.
          ghosts with skulls full

of winged beetle glow
          at sundowning.

a wren resting in a swath
          in damp after-rain air.

ghosts appear in syncopated
          refrains & realign sounds.

move the pastoral into a soft
          muscle where ghosts eschew

the body & reformulate it as
          a prehistoric sea of aquamarine.

ghosts breathe through coral reefs
          each polyps a cluster of prayers

built from larvae & migration.
          ghosts reside in this silence

warming spaces with undercurrents
          under the abyss of water skin.

Sneha Subramanian Kanta is a recipient of the Charles Wallace Fellowship at The University of Stirling, Scotland. She is the founding editor of Parentheses Journal, and author of Land: Body / Ocean: Muscle (forthcoming with dancing girl press). Her work has appeared or will appear in CUMULUS, DATABLEED, Up The Staircase Quarterly, and elsewhere.

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