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THE MELITA HUME SHORTLIST 2014: SOHINI BASAK (8 OF 11)


Sohini Basak (pictured) was born in 1991 in Kolkata. She studied literature for her undergraduate degree at St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi, during which she won prizes for her poetry at the RædLeaf India as well as the Reliance-Unisun TimeOut competitions.
 
Her writing has been published (or is forthcoming) in journals such as Ink, Sweat and Tears; The Cadaverine; Ambit; The Four Quarters Magazine; Helter Skelter and Muse India. She moved to the UK in September 2013 to study for an MA in Writing at the University of Warwick where is working on her first collections of poetry and short fiction.


How to Breed Lilacs

First, learn not to stereotype months, then walk

on all fours, sniffing the garden soil, stop at the warmest

patch of earth. Then, dig. Dig deep, dig with love, do not use

a shovel, dig until your ankles are covered, upturn minerals

until the earthworms tickle your toes. Always use your hands,

for everything. Watch out for the microscopic snails who leave

behind trails, softer than your fingers make. If you have powdered

bones, sprinkle them, with ceremony, without hurting others. 

Calcium works faster than singing softly to growing plants. Plant 

the tiny, the new, the world-condensed-in-a-grain-full-of-potential

seeds. Another piece of advice: do not use adjectives unless you

need them. So revised: plant those seeds. Simply. Use more water

for libation, nothing else purifies, nothing else soaks the soil, mixing

memory and desire. Afterwards, wash your fingernails clean, return

to the kitchen, make yourself a cup of tea. Again you will find the uses

of water. Dripdropdripdrop. Cup in hand, sit down by the window, 

you will see the seeds bursting out, the roots travelling in tunnels

deeper than your reach. Then, you will see the branches growing:

spreading out, those gray brown birds, reaching towards

everywhere, you will see lilacs clustering, each petal singular,

designed with your fingerprints.
 
 
poem COPYRIGHT POET 2014
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