The Purloined Microwave

…we who become the emissaries of all the purloined letters which at least for a time remain in sufferance. (“Seminar on [Edgar Allan Poe’s]‘The Purloined Letter’,”                         Jacques Lacan).

Initially there was no hindrance

Nor was there the absolute hurrying of two bodies—

Our two bodies—,

There were only the leftover remains of the noise

From the cooling of the earth that had not been[1]

Those three degrees that we shared

Adding to each other’s flesh,

Heated in the hiss of our whispers.

And then suddenly,

I poured—

And you took in your palms—

The wax from a melting candle,

As though it were a kind of ink,

Now there are palm-lines all over your body

The striations of your fortune…

The marks of your lips that I wiped from the wall

Or buried deep within

The leftover remains of the veins

Of a dying leaf, a letter

Like the crimsoning of dusk’s cattle that flock to slumber

The funereal hiss can only become

A bookmark that no one will suspect

If you let it remain in the open

Forever, will you?


[1] Arno Penzias and Robert Woodrow Wilson discovered the cosmic microwave background radiation from the hiss of noise that spread over galactic space, for which they shared the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1978. It was hence known that the noise was due to the “three degress above zero” temperature of space which never cooled down but had transformed itself into a “hiss.”

Arup K Chatterjee is Asst. Prof. of English at University of Delhi. He is a PhD scholar at the Centre for English Studies, Jawharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He is the founder/editor of Coldnoon: Travel Poetics (International Journal of Travel Writing). He is recipient of Charles Wallace fellowship, 2014-15, to UK.

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