Jam

by Aparna Mitra

All through summer the baby apricots
fed on sun and salt air, plumped and oranged
on the low branches. All summer I thought
of you and of the Tang poets loved

in the imperial court. All summer
sweet surfeit – Li Bai, Du Fu and Wang Wei –
The Ballad of the Peach Tree Spring, murmur
of quiet streams, bamboo and the Milky Way

gleaming silver, thirteen centuries away.
Sweet fruit on tongue, hand on the brushwood door
of language, I test for give, where Wang Wei
mourns Yin Yao, sets his lantern on the floor

and asks, “How long can one man’s lifetime last?
In the end we return to formlessness.”
Meanwhile the possums and currawongs feast—
a hundred fruit still remain, maybe less.

I tip sun-smeared fruit into a great grey wok
where they hiss, steam rising like evening mist
through which the water-chestnut pickers walk
lamps in windows, rustling pines, the hidden path twists

up the hill, past red trees. The heat-scalded
skins curl back, spill orange flesh, sugared fruit
spinning, swirling, scattering – exalted
orange suns colliding. “Desire is the root”

said the Buddha, “of suffering”. Yin Yao
wanted to study non-rebirth with Wei
but the end came too early and now

is too late. The fruit has yielded its form
the smell of cinnamon is everywhere.

::

Aparna Mitra is a Melbourne based poet. Her poetry has twice won the My Brother Jack Awards, was a finalist in the Fish Poetry Prize 2021 and longlisted for the Palette Emerging Poets 2022 contest. Aparna grew up in Calcutta, has a masters in  business management and has worked in banking and in micro finance. Her most recent publication was in The Empty House Press. Poems forthcoming in The Amethyst Review. When not writing, you can find her trying to coax temperamental Indian tropical plants to bloom in her suburban Melbourne garden and tweeting @aparnamitra0.

Image: Evie Fjord

1 thought on “Jam”

  1. Very cool, the crossover flow into the next verse!
    Enjoyed it, thanks!
    Your second cousin Swagata Deb put me on to your poesy, we went to engineering school together

Comments are closed.