Childhood, in Vignettes

Jose Varghese

It slithers away from the bush.
A fast-beating heart knocks on ribcage,
eyes follow the momentary trail,
as tender grass recoils
from the serpentine rush that
fades in a hurry, erasing its existence.
Bone China has faded, through decades,
into an ivory shade, the gold rim
yellowed by the endless pouring of
hot tea over it. The sparkling
new tea set sits unused, in the meal safe.
‘This one has to stay’, mother says,
‘till it breaks on its own, as it’s
a prize grandpa got for that crucial goal
he struck in a football match.’
He gazes at the moon’s pale face
as it longs to be looked at
in painful nights from a space that has
everything and nothing.
What’s hidden from his eyes,
buried deep in those ugly craters
under the illusion of silky whiteness
are the bleeding fears and smiles
that he’ll someday inherit.

Jose Varghese is a bilingual writer and translator from India. He is the author of ‘Silver Painted Gandhi and Other Poems’ and his short story manuscript ‘In/Sane’ was a finalist in the 2018 Beverly International Prize. He was a finalist twice in the London Independent Story Prize (LISP), a runner up in the Salt Prize, and was commended in the Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize. His works are published or forthcoming in Litro, Under the Radar Magazine (Nine Arches Press), The Bookends Review, The Closed Eye Open, Joao Roque Literary Journal, Burningwords Literary Journal, SPLASH! (Haunted Waters Press), Wild Roof Journal, The Showbear Family Circus, Wingless Dreamer (Spring Poetry Contest 2021), Bluing the Blade (Tempered Runes Press), Lunchbreak Zine, Cathexis Northwest Press, Khabar, Live Encounters, The Best Asian Short Story Anthology (2019 and 2021), The Best Asian Poetry Anthology (2021), Dreich, Live Encounters, Meridian – The APWT Drunken Boat Anthology of New Writing, Afterwards, Summer Anywhere, I Am Not a Silent Poet, Spilling Cocoa Over Martin Amis, Kavya Bharati, Bengaluru Review, Muse India, Re-Markings, Unthology 5, Unveiled, Reflex Fiction, Retreat West, Flash Fiction Magazine, Chandrabhaga, and Postcolonial Text.

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