Sneha  Subramanian Kanta


At the train-station in Birmingham, I’m reliving rhetoric for street-music

though I could be seeing other things for psychoanalysis: the woman with


the garden colored passport, the hospice house with silhouettes in its frame

of incandescent light-bulb windows, or the bonsai seller rubbing his cold hands,


thinking of the thorny shrubs lined in ascending order as a synecdoche for Eden. 


Night birds on their prowl must be migratory, wild animals with wings, having

abandoned the shelter of nests. Their singing cuts through a thick ribbon of fog.


The night scatters blackness as weeds sprout in an untended spot as residuals,

as incantations. With a novel about a shipwrecked city in my hand, I realize


the blue stars in a distance give a damn. The night is leaving fingerprints everywhere. 


previously published in Porridge Magazine 

I see her sometimes, arising from folds of dark, hair left loose like tresses of cypress trees, holding

an earthen lamp. Eyes lined in straight, neat kohl lines with enough light to illuminate curvature contours of her face. The last time I saw her wear a red saree was when nanawas alive, but in flashes like these, I only see a silhouette of her face. I have yearned to meet a goddess after my mother’s

death & have come to learn of grief as strength. Her face, pristine as morning sun reflects memory

at night—the night she doesn’t come to visit becomes amavasya. If night is an elegy with melancholic sounds, then dawn is the numb hour when psalms from her marooned breath find way into my eardrums. If all light is god & god rises with the sun, she turns day into night & rises with the moon. The smell of an ocean lingers on her body. I see her without the grief I last saw on her face, after losing a daughter & being caged. I want to ask if she traveled back to Karachi to look at her

ancestral house abandoned during partition & if all light is the shape of god. She leaves by turning into the shape of a diamond, gliding like a bird through gleams of space in the blue cirrocumulus.


previously published in Longleaf Review

Tonight, we inhale combustion

quilted with orange residues

that leak from solitary bulbs. 


In Paris long enough, I befriend

curled tresses of the cul de sac

on the road below my lodging.


This is how spring stings us –

This is how we get used to cold

as old buildings attract mist. 


I cannot catalogue much except

progeny of wild winds that roar

on the neck of a windowpane.


When it rains in Paris, it bleeds

into swift little gutters.

You can see your reflection

over its mercury embryo.

Three Ways to Open to Life

previously published in Longleaf Review

& if mortality is wet-sand clawing

to your rubber-sandals

                             the body heating in thaw

would you rummage through peculiar chores:

fold laundry, make the bed, scratch the calendar,

                            & sharpen pencils

self-portrait as didn’t-stop-to-smell-the-flowers?


& if you were the places you imagine yourself 

on cold nights; roads with solitary streetlamps

& darkening                   wind-combed grasses                   

                       bitter frost scratching surfaces

                            of weary walls

as if earthquakes & weathering weren’t enough

would you trust your name

                               in the mouth of another?


& if you were an urn

                           flowers on the exterior

                           & ash held within

would you utter hallelujahs in silence? 

 Sneha Subramanian Kanta is a GREAT scholarship awardee, and has earned a second postgraduate degree in literature from England. Her chapbook titled Home is Hyperbole won the Boston Uncommon Chapbook Series (Boston Accent Lit). She is the founding editor of Parentheses Journal. An old soul, she runs a patisserie.