Poem winning second place in the Prakriti Poetry Contest 2013

SURREALISM I: MISTER FISH AND THE CAT – by Tushar Jain

the strange Mister Fish
lives in a library
full of big rotund jars
with soft, round bellies
that spill to the floor
like a ball of rye

in one of those jars
is a cat named Haldi,
with fur rough as bramble,
and a snout greener than a pea,
and no one knows
how the gutsy little devil
got there

every sunset,
when the sky scalds purple
like a bruise, the odd
Mister Fish unscrews the lid
of Haldi’s musky Bulgarian jar,
and throws in a mouse

Mister Fish keeps his mice
in tangerine-colored flasks
and coats them on holidays
in sugar, egg yolk and cream;
so it is not so much as mouse
as it is mousse

across the library
there’s a maple tree
with a cork trunk, a shrubbery bush,
sap, thick as jam,
and magnolias in full bloom,
the size of turnips

in summers, its vines sag low
with blueberries and blossoms,
and the mice perk their ears
to the chirp of finches
burbling in its hollows,
but it is the cat in the jar
who gazes and gazes at it
with eyes as round as pennies,
moist with longing

one day, when Mister Fish
came in to drop a mouse,
marinated, sautéed,
and dipped in marmalade,
the cat leapt and
skittered out,
and never came back

after many years,
the jars stand empty,
whistling in the rains,
and the mice who remain
often see the cat, who now
lives amongst the blossoms.

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