by Shelly Narang

My hands have become pinball flippers.
We’re going crazy in here.
In the evenings
juggling balls pop
from my palm to the air,
back to the palm.
I assign them their names.
One ball will be fear.
The second will be love.
The last persistence.
So much up in the air always,
but the mask blurs my eye.
Fear is in the air,
The love of fear
and the persistence of fear,
so much unknown, to be caught
Or to catch.
I hold fear repeatedly
Dropping persistence and love.

I have dropped love,
woken up and found it
when de-masked.
It is lying in the rooms,
up the liquid flowers,
and in the beautiful faces around.
But every time I grip the mask,
I grip fear too ,
and persistence rolls
under the couch.
The fabric sucks in
as I hold my breath,
offering a little boy
to juggle them who stands
so far away.
He looks at me smiling,
Holding persistence of love,
letting go the love of fear,
and the fear of persistence.

Photo found at (a site that sells juggling balls). 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was written over a few days, as I spent the lockdown evenings in the balcony and watched the neighbours’ son juggle some balls.

Narang (2) copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shelly Narang is a citizen of Chandigarh, India. She is an academic and a poet. She attended Department of English and Cultural studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh, for her Masters Program, which she finished with top honours. She wrote her thesis on South Asian Women Writing for her Doctoral Degree, and was shortlisted for a Fulbright Teaching Assistantship at University of Texas, Austin, in 2008.  The editor and contributing author of the bilingual poetry collection Resonating Strings (Authors press, 2015), her poems have appeared in numerous international anthologies and journals, notably The Muse, Parentheses, Indian Literature, and several others. She has been working as an Assistant Professor in Chandigarh for a decade, and has taught courses such as British Poetry and Applied Linguistics to postgraduate students.