ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998

"Of Porcelain and Pain", a poem by Ajanta Paul

There are some whose lives
are like that porcelain dinner set
over there, on the elegant sideboard, 
not an item missing, 
intact, immaculate, 
a well-preserved sheen 
masking its age, embellishing 
its delicate design.

And then, there are those
whose plates are chipped 
with the scars of years,  
patina worn with hot water and soap 
yet recalling sustenance and satisfaction, 
of toasts raised, special occasions,
the fight, the hurt, the friction,
scratched surfaces, recipes of resilience.

The shining set on display, 
on the other hand,
rarely used, if at all, 
treated kindly, makes one wonder 
Is it for real? What's the deal?
Left high and dry in the dresser
how does it really feel?

To have not felt at all,
to have not found oneself broken,
not having been picked up 
and put together,
not having made do 
with mismatched pairs,
or have lost some close ones
along the way 
or braved the rigours 
of the fray

and survived it all,

but to remain thus enshrined 
few on it having dined,
cold, distant, unblemished
demure in its daintiness,
consigned to crack
not with use, but age,
under the weight of hours, 
captive of its preciousness?

Dr Ajanta Paul is an academic from Kolkata, India who writes poetry, short stories and literary criticism. A Pushcart nominee, Ajanta has lately been lucky with literary journals such as Verse-Virtual, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Shot Glass Journal and Offcourse. Her latest publications are The Elixir Maker and Other Stories (2019) and American Poetry: Colonial to Contemporary (2021).

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