Un-Elegy, Or Written Fifty-Six Steps Above Montmartre

Sneha Subramanian Kanta
| poetry


for my mother

They don’t expect me here,
in Paris. It is November
and the trees are full of smoke, my
conscious mind assimilating
the last lyric from an accordion musician,
in autumn, my favourite season. The glance
of our coarse-sand, green-path, rain-soaked
coconut trees, seasong-shells city is nearer.
This tells me distance may be hypothetical and
reminds me there are not enough poems
about Mumbai. Isn’t everything a transference,

as also death? What I know after yours—
I want you to be here, too, woman-alone, traveling
to the other side of the world, breaking stereotypes.
I can hold the sky on my body, my shoulders
where I most feel its monsoon-gray weight.
Like your presence, your absence is ceremonial.
Everything in this village is an ascend.
According to the Garuda Puran,
death is a veil between the body and the world.
I, too, am learning to be in another room, unpeel
the last of this sky, create kolams in an offering
of prayer, dance like we used to, in rhythmic
cadences, and sit with the ivory-marble grief
until the silence, rose-pink, turns, again, into joy.

Sneha Subramanian Kanta is the author of the chapbooks Ghost Tracks (Louisiana Literature Press, 2020), Ancestral-Wing (Porkbelly Press, forthcoming), and Every Elegy Is A Love Poem (Variant Lit, forthcoming). She is one the founding editors of Parentheses Journal.