Contemplating the Death of My Infant Son

by Aparna Mitra

On the third evening after a full-moon,
in Bermuda’s warm seas every summer
fireworms swarm the bay, light up its waters,
their slight green bodies shimmying to a tune

our human ears cannot hear, then erupt
— a million cerulean stars
on the black water. If you look up,
at this time of the year, you’ll see Altair

dying white dwarf careening to a bright end.
It would take you, my infant son, more years
than you have, to reach that distant star
in which the Sumerians saw the bend

of an eagle’s wing, and your ancestors
traced Vishnu’s foot-print. Wondersmitten, I open
your fist, the thin-skinned tips of your fingers
like brown grapes, the soft fur of your breath

as you sleep. How did something so perfect
come through this ragged body? What I want to say
(oh this feeble clutter of words, metaphors
with their tap-root lodged in things of this world)

is that we are fragile, evanescent beings
coming undone atom by atom
— the burning stars, pirouetting fireworms, you in my arms—
perched on a perfect moment in this wild storm

of molecules swirling, worlds colliding
we are a constellation of losses
a symphonic rush
of dreams chasing dreams.


A Melbourne based poet, Aparna writes in Bengali and in English. Her poetry has twice won the My Brother Jack Awards, was a finalist in the Fish Poetry Prize 2021 and longlisted for Palette Emerging Poets 2022. Aparna grew up in Calcutta, has a masters in business management and has worked in banking and in microfinanace. Her most recent publications were in The Empty House Press, Stirring: A Literary Collection and 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, parenting a couple of high-strung teens and tweeting @aparnamitra0.

Image: Luca Calderone

Image description: glow worms giving off small, blue lights through branches.

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