"Stains" & "Moony"

Arundhathi Anil

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Arundhathi Anil's poems "Stains" and "Moony" are an exploration of human intimacy and all that feels unexplainable. While the two poems differ greatly in subject matter, they unite with the common theme of temporality.

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Yolk began as an electric conversation around a picnic table in Saint Henri Square.

Our scruffy pioneer and present prose editor had previously approached each of us with an idea, a vision: We would establish our own literary magazine in Montreal. And so it was, or so it would be. After that original encounter, eight individuals devoted to the word resolved that they would gather bi-weekly, on Sundays, and bring something new into this busy, manic world—something that might slow its spin down somewhat and cause its patronage to say: “You know what, it ain’t so bad, is it, Susan?”

We are undergraduate, graduate, and graduated students of writing. Some of us learn our craft formally from accomplished authors in seminar courses, and some of us learn by looking out the window of the world and onto the streets that sing below. Some of us learn from screaming squirrels, old curtains, departed grandfathers, and bowel movements. We learn from old lovers, long winters, imperfect mothers, and from the deep internet where a musical genius remains entombed.

Yolk is cold floors on Sabbath mornings, home-brewed ginger beer in the endless afternoon, and downpours of French-pressed coffee in assorted artisanal mugs. Our first official gathering was scheduled for a duration of two hours; most of us remained for six, departing only to attend to the summons of our own beckoning realities. Together, with time suspended, we talked endlessly of contributing something to disrupt Montreal’s literary ecosystem. Something unparalleled, something true.

But what? There was nothing to discuss. There was everything to discuss.

We volunteer our time, hounding some elusive beast composed of combustible words and works. We are hopeful, truly hopeful, that we can give something new, a new way, a new light, and that if we cannot, we might at least uphold the traditions of our predecessors, cast star-wide nets to capture their echoes. We are a thousand decisions. We are a sanctuary for the orphaned word, the solitary writer, the cereal-eating artist who yearns for company, for the comfort of a like mind; we sit together with them at foggy dawn, it rains a baptism, with our arms and hands intertwined, we form an umbrella—underneath, they scribble madly, the perfect picture.

Yolk in no way presumes to be superior to its contemporaries, but its contemporaries should not presume yolk to be anything other than loud—quite, quite loud. We are yippidy jazzed to address the oh-so-technicolorful magnificence of the human experience, but we are prepared also to address the ugliness, to stare at its wet, hairy snout and into its square depth and to roar in return at the things that yearn to devour our skin, beset our ethos, and dig graves in our own backyards.

There’s so much to say, there’s so much we don’t know, but together, with you, we can placate that ignorance, render it peaceful, tolerable, and perhaps even, fucking beautiful.

And Susan says, “Amen.”

Stains

We were cleaning the kitchen
For our names were there on the pin board
Like little brats who tell 
On you. Red wine stains on countertops

And coffee stains from Sunday mornings 
That crawl into being
Out of the festivities and noise
Of Saturday nights; and from Monday 

Mornings and more mornings 
Spawned by nights 
And four a.m. chats ’round the kitchen
Table. We rubbed at the stale brown

Beer that lay like an unacknowledged 
Greeting in the street, 
Or a thumb hacked off in spite.
We cleaned it, 

But we had no part
In how that stain was engendered.
We were two sober saints
By the Ganges,

Beset by filth.
Our names- one short,
English, and Christian, the other 
Long and pagan, insoluble in these mouths.

So, they spit it out
Like betel leaves and pan. 
Red blood-like stains on a sidewalk
Back home. Brown coffee-like

Stains on the kitchen counter. 
Coffee was a need. We were needy 
For coffee. University demands such things,
And for these things we pay. Insomnia, fear, identity,

Dignity. Fair trade. They drink tea
With sugar and cream. My mother too loved tea.
Chai tea. They also love chai tea here. 
They had once made it for me. 

Pumpkin chai tea. 
That I don’t like chai is mortifying!
We cleaned the kitchen 
Because it was our turn to and it’s only fair

And fairness is an actuality here.

Moony

The moon, sliced in half, lingers in an early afternoon
Sky that still holds some of the yellow of the day.
Too early! They cry for you to come with your stiff 
Curves like the silvery daughter of Helen and Diane. 
Poet that you are, will you not perceive it and versify!
The moon, look! The moon, poet. It is but what it is. 
A silver scar on a purple bruise. It is but the moon.

Arundhathi Anil is an Indian poet and undergraduate student of English Literature at the University of York. Her work has appeared in the Ice Lolly Review and  Literary Yard, and is forthcoming in the Looking Glass Anthology.  Her poetry is particularly concerned with themes of home, alienation and cultural hybridity in the postcolonial world.
IG: @arundhathii_anil

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Additional reading

august

Sicilian Blue

Stains We were cleaning the kitchen For our names were there on the pin board Like little brats who tell On you. Red wine stains on countertops And coffee stains from Sunday mornings That crawl into being Out of the festivities and noise Of Saturday nights; and from Monday Mornings and more mornings Spawned by nights And four a.m. chats ’round the kitchen Table. We rubbed at the stale brown Beer that lay like an unacknowledged Greeting in the street, Or a thumb hacked off in spite. We cleaned it, But we had no part In how that stain was engendered. We were two sober saints By the Ganges, Beset by filth. Our names- one short, English, and Christian, the other Long and pagan, insoluble in these mouths. So, they spit it out Like betel leaves and pan. Red blood-like stains on a sidewalk Back home. Brown coffee-like Stains on the kitchen counter. Coffee was a need. We were needy For coffee. University demands such things, And for these things we pay. Insomnia, fear, identity, Dignity. Fair trade. They drink tea With sugar and cream. My mother too loved tea. Chai tea. They also love chai tea here. They had once made it for me. Pumpkin chai tea. That I don’t like chai is mortifying! We cleaned the kitchen Because it was our turn to and it’s only fair And fairness is an actuality here. Moony The moon, sliced in half, lingers in an early afternoon Sky that still holds some of the yellow of the day. Too early! They cry for you to come with your stiff Curves like the silvery daughter of Helen and Diane. Poet that you are, will you not perceive it and versify! The moon, look! The moon, poet. It is but what it is. A silver scar on a purple bruise. It is but the moon.