The Imperishable and Perishable Family

There was a husband-father at one time, distinguished in phrases but not in gestures.
There was a daughter circulating in vain attempts, calculating the usage of efforts,
I’m afraid to say. I had painted her in pearly fabric
amidst the lost husband-father who blew up our foundation
when he sought to line draw the exaggerations in our field: what were perished
actions of the family. I thought to resuscitate it all and my cheeks blew inward.
I was holding all my breath inside. This wasn’t a good idea.

So does this world spring from the imperishable, says The Upanishads.

And led me to ask for a crystalline idiom, because in finding
the daughter, I lost myself. I realized (too late)
I was granted tyranny for all the lost occasions.
My therapist calls this manipulation. I decided to stake its claim.
I will be done now. I knew I was the hat trick for them.
And thus I’m over with the game because the game had since
been done with me—I had no idea until I blew and blew and blew.


Copyright © 2020 by Prageeta Sharma. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 28, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“This poem was a difficult poem to write. It is part of a new collection I’m writing titled Onement Won, poems inspired by the exploration of grieving, rejoice, and renewal through an examination of Barnett Newman’s Onement series, popular culture, and the Upanishads. This particular poem came directly out of a therapy session I had with a new therapist who had a lot to say to me about my past and how she viewed it. It was illuminating. In the first session I was attempting to explain my past fifteen plus years to the present in fifteen minutes, which included my late husband’s death, my now-estranged relationship to his daughter, my disappointment/hurt with this, and my desire to understand how to adjust to my new life with the past still haunting me. As I was writing this poem, I was reading both the Upanishads and Lauren Berlant and was trying to think about how I could have this poem be honest about my complaints, my confessions, and my truths in terms that could encapsulate an instruction to myself, with a kind of aphorism I could live by, framed almost as a kind of fairy tale of woe and truth.”
Prageeta Sharma