Two poems by Anuja Mitra

write soon

what rituals exist

for a dead language?


though I was the killer

I covered my mirrors for weeks

like the Victorians

those masters of grief

owners of tintype stares

and tragic ends

letters kissed closed

with violet, lilac, dead men’s bells:

all the things


that made you want

that morbid glamour

made us children

take to pen and post

drawing new bodies

and new verbs to live in them

new mouths to pour forth

our fledgling grammar;

all the things


that made you cry

smoothed over then

by better words —

by this vocabulary

that might have stayed

if we were not killers

thinking we could never lose

a long-loved tongue

left fallow in the reams


of my unfinished replies

still whispering through

the envelopes

still humming

in our private dialect:

here is everything

that meant something,


here are all the things

that made


My Spider

bug-catching, in my house,

is a sport born of necessity.

beetle and mantis we contain

in a glass, whisk off

to kinder climates.


but you are ineradicable,

my spider.

even the cats look upon you

like a charmless toy.


I watch you spin

your lone descent,

wonder if you’re not wanting

for comfort, not to mention



it’s something to do

with your habits, how you keep

pitching your parlour

where the landlord disturbs it,


another web made victim

to my umpteenth spring clean.


your cousins meanwhile

enjoy the lifestyle of champions;

wrapped round a branch

where breeze is no threat

and flies are aplenty.


one whiff of their garden air


and you’re gripped, transfixed,

as though thinking to swing

inch by inch


toward some better place.

Anuja Mitra lives in Auckland with many cats. Her writing can be found in places like Cordite, Poetry NZ, Starling and Sweet Mammalian, though possibly her finest work remains tragically unfinished in the notes app of her phone.