Jerry Pinto's poem: Learning from the lockdown


From dust

The fan needs cleaning. On top of each blade, a thick layer of dirt. I think of the first particle of dust that settled there. When the fan started it must have been whirled off. But dust persists. Dust gathers. It sticks together. Dust hangs on. Can I learn from dust?

From swabbing

The first day I crouched to swab; Because that’s the best way, everyone says; Because the best maids squat to swab, everyone knows. My knees groaned all night. The second day, I swabbed standing. The third day, I decided swabbing Every day was not really necessary. Every alternate day will do it. Can I be master to the maid That I am to myself?

From ants

I set a plate down: soft cheese, hard tomato, boiled egg. A black ant comes along, another, another. ‘Good times, good times, food,’ they signal each other. ‘Mountains of food,’ they tell each other. All along the chain the message passes: ‘Mountains of protein, mountains of food.’ I take my plate away. The ants are perplexed. Food? Mountain of food? Where did it go? Didn’t you say…? Didn’t we hear…? A second later they’re all searching again. Can I learn from ants?