India Poetry Magazine –

"The Undead" by Vaishali Rawat


Title image shows a large number of birds lifting off from and flying near to a rooptop balcony.

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Published January 1, 2023

The Undead

by Vaishali Rawat
(Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India)

Heavy wind jerks the sun-kissed wooden doors,
The padlocks strain to keep the July dead within.
They thud against the worn blue of the warehouse
where the living come to bury the undead.
I melt into the mildewed walls and see their fickle faces
in the purple light of the heavenly curtain call.
They are left for dead, not a star to their inheritance or
carnations over a plot of tended grass; No, they aren't quite
dead – With the conviction of grief, perhaps a change of scenery.
They are dead like a language; They are dead too, like God
existing and yet not asserting; They are dead like the science
of things yet undiscovered, and dead too like a breakfast
that's been had, like all other breakfasts, indistinct.
I must sit here slurping flat sodas, endorsing soggy chips,
counting my pearls, nay, mothballs, and twisting my words
to wage war against – if only I could find the centre of gravity –
the pernicious enemy; I could fight it and we could die
at once, for what is more horrifying than to be a memory;
Embellished and violated, a corpse at sea for much too long;
Come, let us wash ashore and walk with our swollen limbs
to the burning pyre, or if you would rather, let the flies
hum the notes of decay and let the bees suckle on the sores,
for the honeycomb of heaven is infinitely empty.
Oh, such language does not become us for we are but sullied water
spiralling down the drain to the laundress' impatience.
We are rotting things that do not make themselves seen
but in bouts of draft that irk the dogwalker less and less each day.
It is our lot to fade like dubious clouds, at once threatening
and pushed to the edge of thought for a day's work.
Alas, there is much for us to do after this business of living,
for the business of fading, if done tastefully can overwrite
our days of flesh like the present often does the past.
So say, is the second coming to become the first?

Vaishali Rawat: The author is a third-year Undergraduate student in the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. She is currently pursuing a B.Tech in Chemical Engineering and loves to read books in her free time. She finds it hard not to write about life and the things she witnesses as part thereof, from time to time.

This poem is included in Poetry World #5, published in the Wax Poetry and Art Library.

Previously published in India Poetry Magazine:
Monsoon Wet

by Sayani Mukherjee

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