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Sneha Subramanian Kanta "Four Poems"

Winter with a ghost and purgatory



You will clepe a voice.

                                        An open field quotidian


in the nocturnal Venetian blue.

                                                         A ghost leafed on                                                       

a clover, in the bifurcation

                                                 amid light and citronella.

An ardour for knives

                                       and feet thudding in permafrost.

A ghost will vein the return

                                                  of mourners unspooling from


hills where animals

                                   on gravels near a stream


quench their thirsts.

                                    A portion of hunger is worship—


ombre dusk before curtilages

                                                    begin sonances of feast.


After harvest in burlaps

                                           animal trails will begin to appear


on grass alongside

                                the hexagon in the sky as earth


begins dimming in snow.

                                            Stars will become visible


from sanatoriums where a ghost

                                                          gleams in the space


where rainclouds assimilate

                                                  over the lilac horizon.


Craquelure from which muscle

                                                        restores into bone—


particulates from a grove

                                              of peripheral damp


rising from the pines

                                     where first snow cascades into


empty barns arrowing

                                        into mildew tunnels that arrive


in the interior crest

                                   of a shift with fleeting birds.


The birds will encounter

                                            a ghost and begin to fly.


There will be reprieve.

                                        A beryl dawn over azul frost,



a glacial ruffle by the drizzle

                                                  a softness aloft receptacles.

An Inheritance of Light


                                                                             for nani



The scent of sunlight peers through apexes of mountains

and a compost of water hyacinths. A name for each peak,

an unfolding in each summit. As you lay awake, dreaming

for a hundred years, history speaks back to you: the living

tissue in a tree stump, musky wildflowers, open mouths of

river-streams in full force, a dab of attar from chandan trees

on your wrist. An abundance in the teal mountains beyond

the war, a world beneath our feet. My grandmother covered

the route between two countries with a dream of mountains.

I learn how to say mountain in three different languages in

her voice. I taste the syntaxes of these words on my tongue.

I dream of an abode of snow, of shelter, a resurrection for

tired feet. There is a coastline beyond the mountain and a

mountain beyond every ocean. Sky coagulates like blood in

your body. Wet fields after rain sprout into a moss-forest full

of evergreens with birdsong. Remember the names of your

ancestors in memory. Walk as if every tree you pass through

in the mountain is a reliquary of their being, a safekeeping

for life. Every green vein in the hands of my grandmother

reminds me of an understory beneath the forest floor, tracks

of leaf and foliage. A synonym of mountain is a remedy for

hunger, as the tendons in your body react to veins carrying

nutrients into its system, the way my ancestors gather fruit

and chamomile bulbs in my dream. In the mountains, there

will be singing, because a mountain is not a symbol of war.

As the claws of a bird decompose in its soil, champas bloom

over mountain ranges under a glaze of the moon. A smudge

of winter-fog over the slope smells like a garden of dried roses.

Animals rise through a slope toward the summit like migratory

birds over an amavasya sky. I watch a mountain loop our prayers

like an echo through the darkness. A glistening comet appears

across the sky, a streak of purple phosphorescence, as a row of

earthen lamps lit over a porch. A mountain is a remembrance in

the solace of a blue night. A plumage of nocturnal rebirth. Mist

rises through dusk-hour emissions. The mountains harness light.




hayloft snow


ghosts rising in barns

covered with snow


gliding their backs over

English ivy interlaced


with green creepers.

a duet of hymn & slumber


a landscape husked

with smells of petroleum


along frozen glaciers

where a Diuca finch nests.


ghosts acclimatise where

membranes of the sky crackle


into a cold sunset. the sky

bursts into sediments


the slow cascade of water

under our feet: rose & dandelion


pressed under a cover of snow.

ghosts wreathing toward


constellations, dressed in

violet aubades of lyric.


all memory turning to light

suns dwell inside the snow sleet.







Before morning, an interlude of light & shadow

upon a vacant field. Ghosts with periscope eyes,

each a mausoleum of violet lilac sent to earth in

another form. The violet of the sky invisible at

dawn, though it looms, scattered by atmosphere.

Brook trout brocade lakes with a vermiculation

of colors that extend till their dorsal fin. Before

an animal eats another animal, ghosts gesticulate

sermons to hinder the ferity of this ritual. What

is the name for the collection ceremony of fallen

flowers & stems of a linden tree? A reddish bud

on your palm for blood-loss. The bees produce

monofloral honey from linden trees. Their labor

is a tincture of amber. A transmutation of crystals.

A dent in the ground amid grasslands where ghosts

weave one portion of earth into its deep emptiness.

An expedition of using cellulose as a renewable fuel

to rescue depletion with its biomolecules. In some

places, earth is drawn into a row of syringes. What

bruise holds us? Fire caused by a splintered ember

can burn whole landscapes into ash. A brutality of

invention. Over the colorless field, carrion birds

devour carcasses. Ghosts carry fragments of bone

into a portion where the earth is scatheless & place

them on the anther & filaments of roses. Over the

red scope of sepals. Ghosts scale brute topography

until the end of a day. Call them cartographers.

When dew settles on grass, ghost tracks turn it to

gossamer rain. Ghosts wake underwater & cast light

under a clouded sky. Everywhere, colors emerge.


Sneha Subramanian Kanta is a writer from Canada. She has been awarded the inaugural Vijay Nambisan Fellowship 2019. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Waxwing Magazine, The Puritan, Savant-Garde Literary Magazine, and elsewhere. She was the Charles Wallace Fellow writer-in-residence (2018-19) at The University of Stirling. She is the author of Ghost Tracks, published by Louisiana Literature Press (Southeastern Louisiana University). She is the founding editor of Parentheses Journal and reads for Tinderbox Poetry Journal.

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