Anser Journal

Two Poems

By Sanjana Rajagopal


—after Jacques Derrida

The summer everyone spent indoors,
I peered into the dead-end telescope of history,
watching helplessly as Rudy Vrba escaped a barbed wire hell
to warn those in power of the smoke clouds to come,
and no one did anything.

That summer—
a fundamental dispiritedness permeated
the embroidery of existence.

Hurbinek haunted my thoughts
so I crawled into bed with my mother
for the first time in years.

Life itself became a futile attempt
to forget, to set aside a creeping dread
of something deeply dark within us,
bubbling below the surface.

That summer—
we were alone in more than one sense
as men the world over roamed the width of their rooms,
distancing from each other and from
the more grotesque moments
in our catalogue of horrors—
tormented by the spectral axis of Being itself.

The frame of reference became distorted,
the heart of humanity congealed.

And so, dipping our fingers into the inkpot of absurdity—
we wrote on the pages of a lost future,

inhabited a time
that was non-time,

and failed to exorcise
the demons of our past.

The Library of Memory

We buy separate train tickets,
but you’ll be telling everyone
only I know the way back home.

You follow me as if you have faith in me
and when the night blooms,
I stand beside you on that platform in my black plastic heels
and imagine all the places we have been and could go—

Father Time sweeps me back towards another May—
after a sleepless week,
we tread the golden-green walkways of Central Park
in a spring haze.

Brent has lost his car, so we trail behind him,
talking as if everything else has fallen away—
there’s not a soul on the streets of Manhattan
who seems to matter.

The Upper East Side was made for our glamour & glory—
reflected back to us
in the mosaic windows of the church on Madison,
where I stop to take a photograph.

We catch the 6,
and an ocean of light comes
in through the fractal
of my shattered hopes.

The Grand Concourse
is bathed in colors so rich,
I can no longer pick out the line
dividing land and sky.

Something died in me that night—
the poetess went into hiding forever—
dissolved into the velvet bruise of a kiss
never given on Fordham Road.

With a single flourish,
you have impressed yourself on the pages of my heart—
no other book more precious in the library of memory.

Sanjana Rajagopal is a graduate student studying philosophy in New York City. Her work has appeared in Stone of Madness Press, Glitchwords, Ayaskala Mag, Perhappened Mag, and L’Éphémère Review. You can find her on Twitter @SanjanaWrites, and on Instagram @astrangecharm.