Sugar Cube – a poem by Aparna Mitra

Sugar Cube
“…if you could squeeze all the empty space out of all the atoms in all the seven billion people in the world, you could indeed fit them in the volume of a sugar cube.”: Marcus Chown in Ten Bonkers Things About the World.
We are mostly empty space. Squash us close
all seven billion of us – redbacksblackknees
yellowelbowsbrowneyeswhitetoes – and we’d fit in a cube
of sugar. A hollow woman, dressed in fingers and toes
I climb these hollow hills heaving with flowers.
Such beauty in empty. Sunlight on the tops of trees
manna gums bleached pink and everywhere
the smell of leaves. How many cubes for these hills?
Squeeze in the green gleam, the leaf-light, the fern’s
carnal curl. Slip in the soft bodies of the mushrooms,
the mountain ashes smooth-arming their white limbs
into the sky. Make room for this small stream, this one –
bubbling and slipping over the brown knees of stones
spanned by stream-stripped sun-bleached limbs of fallen birch
giant-bones left over from long ago
a forest of small births, the press of tiny deaths
mayflies and moss – to measure is moot.
Over the valley, a pair of rosellas dip and bank
a pinch of red, then of blue, opening now, now closing
make space for colour in our cube.
Nothing is lost, say the Upanishads –
fullness abides. I want to remember everything
these soft-spoken buds, the azaleas’ pink shouts,
your hand in mine, the sky leaning in.

Aparna Mitra lives in Melbourne with her husband and two children. Her poetry has twice won the My Brother Jack Awards and been shortlisted for the Fish Poetry Prize 2021. Aparna grew up in Calcutta, has a Masters in  Business Management and has worked in banking and in micro finance. Her most recent publication was in the Empty House Press. When not writing, you can find her trying to coax temperamental Indian tropical plants to bloom in her suburban Melbourne garden and tweeting @aparnamitra0.

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