In an enduring scene from a movie, the hero whispers

the one great longing of his life, hands cupped around mouth,


to a hole in the wall as a monk watches on, before walking down

the corridor of the temple like a soldier of fate, the screen briefly

frozen on an empty courtyard in the famous ruins of Angkor Wat,


the same courtyard that a friend and I had visited three summers ago,

spending the day with a cheerful guide, admiring the journey


of crafted heft to grand remainders and the gloss left by time

on the surface of stone. How ambling through the same passageway

of dark sandstone might have invoked the spirit of the actor’s tragic romantic


and how in a world of association like ours, it might have been enough

for me to persevere through the punishing aftermath of a heartbreak


that still seemed recent. After the movie, I obsess over the volta in sonnets.

From the turn of phrase emerges a privacy of yearning. All the while my phone

vibrates in resonance with the violence of the world. The video of an explosion


ripping through the port of Beirut leaves me parched. Daily, a volta scorches

a heart somewhere in the world, tenderness flickering out in despair


leaving a trail of ashen vectors for investigators to trace. When the quietness

of room returns, the journey of food and bowel resumes. What do you do

to invent inspiration? In the documentary – The Last Dance, Michael Jordan


confesses to making up a lie about an insult from an opponent for motivation

to perform better. I find this conceit remarkable, but when I try summoning


even the vaguely antagonistic, the words that come to mind are from ones

I love. How do you appreciate such bewilderment? While browsing, I read

about the story of the astrologer invited by the President to the oath


taking ceremony because he forecasted it in a consultation years ago. Closer

to home, at my maternal village, nestled deep in the woodlands of Eastern Odisha,


next to the meadows where I spent many childhood summers striking ball

with bat and sucking ripe stony hearts of mangoes dry, sits rooted under a Banyan

tree in the hours from noon till dusk a sprightly old man revered for his practice


of palmistry for as long as anybody can remember. My grandmother once revealed

that back in the day, the palm reader told her she might never have a grandson.


Apparently, I’m famous in the area

as one of the very few times

he got it wrong.

Satya Dash is the recipient of the 2020 Srinivas Rayaprol Poetry Prize. His poems appear in The Boiler, Anomaly, Chestnut Review, Rhino Poetry, Cincinnati Review, and Diagram, among others. Apart from having a degree in electronics from BITS Pilani-Goa, he has been a cricket commentator too. He has been nominated previously for Pushcart prize, Best of the Net and Best New Poets. He grew up in Cuttack and now lives in Bangalore, India. He tweets at: @satya043