The Kingdom of Salt

By Sekhar Banerjee

The Kingdom of Salt

My aunt, not a poet and now dead, used to say 
an ocean is a dark kingdom of tear,
fish eggs and the lost ships
Geography teachers always place a town 
near a bay and fasten the bay with a quay 
Like a tissue 
and a tear drop hanging from the eye 

A river can never really hook a bay and pull it inlands 
as suggested by some Indian map-makers,
 traditional, when in love; 
a bay is too moody and expansive
Like a huge enemy ship lost from a dark fleet 
It is a descendant of the ocean and some clownfish

If you want to prevent the ocean at the bay, you build 
an abrupt settlement of raw fish, 
sweat water, mechanics and the fishermen 
at the river’s hem;
install iron links, a hollow sky, piers and the jetties;
start a family, rear kids, beat the wife 
and drink local liquor, always sweet and sour, like a village pastor  
and sleep at the start of a dark night 
It sometimes happens with all anglers, some lovers,
a few retired geography teachers and the dealers
of tear, hook and fish

My mother, a poet and now dead, used to say 
a river and a bay can never be separated
like love and a fall from grace
Like the clown fish and the shipwreck. Like tap water 
and a blue bucket beneath. Like a flow 
and the loss of it 

Sekhar Banerjee is an author.  He has four poetry collections and a monograph on an Indo-Nepal border tribe to his credit. His works have been published in Indian Literature, The Bitter Oleander, Ink Sweat and Tears, Verse-Virtual,  Setu, Kitaab, Borderless Journal, Better Than Starbucks,  The Tiger Moth Review, and elsewhere. He lives in Kolkata, India.


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