by Nakul Grover
She was obsessed with layers. How, on the chair, everyday scarves, paisley or otherwise, would begin to pile one atop the other. How thin slices of cheese stacked together. How peels of onions and garlic got amassed upon each other in the kitchen during hasty cooking. Piles of newspaper in the recycle cupboard. The accumulation of memories in layers, stacks, piles. Does an onion know where it comes from? Does every yarn in the golden paisley motif of a scarf remember its origin somewhere in Iran? Could a piece of cheese trace its memories in the family of cows it came from? She looked around her. T-shirt made in Bangladesh. Broomstick from China. Pants from Vietnam. Candles from Cambodia. Does every object remember where it has come from and where it has been? Does a piece of wax know it is a source of light? Things have been everywhere. Inside dingy ship quarters, inside mailboxes and envelopes, thrown around by men and women of different colors. Most things people pack will never be used by them. You cannot make a sheep out of scarves, cannot grow cotton from every yarn, cannot plant a tree from a little block of paper. She tickled the sides of the newspapers to feel the serrated edges, how one machine would have caused the edges to zigzag, how the ink would have kissed the paper with wet ink. All of this to end up in her hands, in a strange apartment. How much history can she trace? How much history does she care to trace?
NAKUL GROVER is a writer based out of Cambridge, MA. A current graduate student in education technology at Harvard University, he graduated from the BA/MA program in creative writing at Penn State. His poem “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” won the Academy of American Poets contest, with other poems and stories published in magazines like Fresh.Ink, Oakland Arts Review, and Pennsylvania’s Best Emerging Poetry. He is currently working on a magic realism novel called Goddess of Peacocks. In his free time, he plays the sarod, an Indian classical lute, and the piano.