When he is a kid, his father tells him:
the scientists decided not to tell us the moon
is actually the sun in disguise, it knows the laws of light
and distance better than anybody else in the universe.
The kid doesn’t know his father is drunk. The stink
of breath doesn’t disgust him. He treats it
as another strange thing about adults. Now this fact
could have been from a science magazine’s April Fools’
newsletter. It probably was. His father’s mind.
When he grows up, he almost forgets how his father loved
newspapers to the point he wouldn’t have his morning tea
until the Times of India arrived like a thick wad
of grotesque rags the world had been scrubbed by
in the last 24 hours. Now the boy remembers
only the newspaper’s logo, two elephants facing each other
with a shield separating their advancing tusks,
a ribbon below proclaiming Let truth prevail.
Now it chokes him up to recount a specificity like that.
Though he has forgotten the deep baritones of his father’s voice.
The boy is not my friend. He is not even an acquaintance.
I only meet him once at a poetry workshop. And I become
the intimate stranger that kind of lacerating detail needs
to live on. It replenishes my greed for the gifts
of humanity one unknown tongue at one unexpected place
can give another. And the consequence? Thought
splinters, rearranges memory— consider this quiz
book my father brought me, still somewhere in my chest
of drawers— what purpose do these relics serve,
on the bottom shelves in which of God’s countless
cobwebbed museums do they finally end up at?
Here, look, I have spent most of my thrumming twenties
in Bangalore, orbiting the city’s many lakes, sneezing while staring
at desktops with rapt attention, falling in and out of love
with what is supposed to be the subcontinent’s best weather.
And when somebody asks me what is my favorite memory
of the city, my first thought is about the golden straw-colored
apple cider from the brewery near my apartment
that I carried home once, the bottle inside my suitcase wrapped
in a Turkish towel rattling along in a sleeper train, and then convinced
my teetotaler father to taste. He didn’t admit but I could see
he enjoyed its light-bodied floral notes.
Listen to Satya read "Neural Network" below:
SATYA DASH (he/him) is the recipient of the 2020 Srinivas Rayaprol Poetry Prize. His poems appear in Waxwing, Redivider, Passages North, The Boiler, Cincinnati Review, Chestnut Review and The Journal, among others. Apart from having a degree in electronics from BITS Pilani-Goa, he has been a cricket commentator too. He has been nominated previously for Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net and Best New Poets. He grew up in Cuttack, Odisha and now lives in Bangalore. He tweets at: @satya043