sekhar banerjee

Beyond sanitation, I look at the tendencies 
of being alone 
It has a claim

over small, household things 
Dogs barking in the park, babies laugh 
I know

There is a red swing 
with nobody on it 
Now there is no origin

It is calm here in my room 
Broken lines on the wall 
A dead scream in the glass

An old spot 
on my quarantine shirt collar

I sense loss

       Dead Letter Boxes

At night, I roam in the bedroom 
and in the balcony 
and in the living room and in the kitchen 
and again come back to the bedroom, 
living room, balcony and the kitchen 
like an apprentice postman

I see blocked houses 
in the next closed alley; red letter boxes 
hanging on every tree 
How many addresses do we invent? 
Destination is now almost dead

I breathe deep 
thinking of a postman lost in the woods 
complaining about the butterflies 
and the dead letter boxes in June

Nothing anymore feels the same 
I feel 
Therefore I am 
standing alone in the darkness 
looking for an address


Now I have three time-zones in three rooms 
Kitchen is the new League of Nations 
Here I am in my tree-facing room — a dot on a map 
like an island 
A succulent in a blue tub — no visitors — same nightmares — 
seven old drafts of longitude and latitude 
on my table beside two books of Wallace Stevens and yellow air 
I don’t listen to music at present 
It distracts 
from my immediate concerns like — sleep and remoteness

I have a hospital in my breath 
and I talk to an old mug with three scratches 
and to a horse chestnut with a broken arm 
This is normal 
when you have lost faith in Descartes

I watch the cirrocumulus clouds stuck on my window net 
Peeled plastic paint — a strip of vitamin C — my floral bedspread 
On weekends, I wash all my masks (mostly black and white): 
each for a day, even for my staggered sleep 
and clip them carefully on a clothesline in the balcony, as if, 
they are my dead faces for the week

Sekhar Banerjee is a Pushcart Award nominated poet. The Fern-gatherers’ Association (2021) is his latest collection of poems. He has been published in Stand Magazine, Indian Literature, The Bitter Oleander, Ink Sweat and Tears, The Lake, Better Than Starbucks, Thimble Literary Magazine, The Tiger Moth Review and elsewhere. His poems have been included in Indian and international poetry anthologies.  He has recently co-edited The Brown Critique ‘Home’ anthology. He lives in Kolkata.

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Life in Quarantine: Witnessing Global Pandemic is an initiative sponsored by the Poetic Media Lab and the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis at Stanford University.

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