જગા (Place)

Three by three by three
I saw it every weekend
at my grandmother’s house,

a cupboard. Sometimes taller
than me, soon enough, not,
it sat outside my Masi’s

bedroom, kitty corner from
the long dining table where
my grandfather held court.

This was my treasure chest.
Jammed tight with papers
and old 45s, out of their sleeves

I never knew what else.
It smelled of varnish. Not
furniture polish or Pledge

but the old stuff, the original stuff
One part woodsy; one part turpentine
I cannot describe it

but I smell it now, easily,
I don’t even have to close
my eyes. I smell the walnut

brown; I smell the sheen
reflecting back my
toothless face; I smell

the mystery. What were all
these papers? These objects
saved so carefully, yet so

carelessly? I’d sit in front
of its open doors and stare
for hours, too scared to

touch anything, disturb
the order. Who knows, maybe
they liked to be all squashed

in there. Sometimes, though,
I’d add my own treasure. Seeds
I’d picked up in the grass, red

and round and smooth
as Smarties. Sometimes
it was a rock I’d pried

off a retaining wall when
no one was looking. Sometimes
a coin. A pigeon feather. The cap

off an old ball point pen. I allowed
myself one small corner of one
shelf–the top left–and the papers

grumbled and shifted to make
room for my friends, and
this is how I came to belong.



Categories: Poetry

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4 replies

  1. Lovely! Brought back a flood of memories.

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