Auditory Cortex / April 2018 (Issue 39)


by Rochelle Potkar

Emancipation is white,
grey skin dotted in shark bites.
Cut to the tail—damages from a fishing line,
braided in helplessness and fissured visions—
pneumonia and an eye ulcer,
they found him on a beach
and named him Sulphur.

Seven months, they nursed him in rehab.

When he could hunt fish they tied a radio collar
and sent him into the causeway.

He was stiff at first. What is home?
If not in the direction of an aquarium.

Home is how warm it gets between the flaps—
liquid charcoal around the shadows and bends.
The chiaroscuro of red light and a dorsal fin spattered,
attacked by a tiger shark.

Rescued too late. A tennis-ball of a heart,
and smoke in the irises.

White skin in a brown country
under 300 years of hukumat
with throbbing natural organs
and still 'a bloody primitive'.

Porcelain assumptions
through imperial glints. Where is home?
If not in the direction of a museum.

Medium-sized decorative installation.
Hung in a hallway on a nail.
Stuffed with rags, synthetic ideologies
Speaking shark-syllables.
Sulphur is now a life-like specimen—
knifed with a wider smile over his face.

'Sometimes we can't stop nature in its coursing.'

Brown skin in a white country
after 100 years of citizenship—
embalmed and upholstered
and still 'a bloody immigrant'.

 Highly recommended:
"Place" by Rochelle Potkar (India)

Lian-Hee Wee's commentary: Are you dolphin or shark? Are you human or fish? Is home an enclosure or haven? Is liberty a trap strapped with responsibility? Is the museum a cemetery? This poem confronts the reader with the issue of humanity while also relating to the idea of belonging, be it one's birthplace, one's refuge, or a place colonised and then reclaimed and reinvented, but still ambivalent.
[Read other Auditory Cortex poems.]

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