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How You Walk Your Planktons Around Your Abandoned Home

by Mandira Pattnaik

Planktons never age. I do. So I walk my planktons around my abandoned home.

As I enter, I remove the lock like a diaphanous layer upon my acquired inhibitions, leave it outside the door, delicately harbor the moment when the hardened faces of stone walls and carved mahogany furniture look me in the eyes, the eagerness of years, the loony pool of surrenders, the wordless crusting over of lips.

Feel the urge to hug everything: like a working mother returning to children, sister of seafarer brothers, or shoreline of countless moon tides.

Examine the carpet of unmistakable sogginess.

Dad’s hard-earned plaque blanketed in dust.

Leave them to stride across the bones of the door creaking for love.

Into the living quarters with framed portrait of beloved Nana-Nani, frozen in their tired look, shawl-draped and reluctantly hanging there, the woeful dead plant in the corner, how it smells of craft and embroidery, paints, half-done baking, rounded up with moist rotting trash that left its odor as hated apparitions; fall for the wonders of well-lived bedrooms, with family albums, the lingering smell of lotions molded in velvety jewelry boxes; I take a scoop and hold it to my face, inhaling the air; twine the blue ribbons of mysterious curling as moments lost forever; pause for minutes that clone into hours, then days and years; then slide on, and outside through that imaginary ramp which makes your marooned planktons somersault to agelessness.

Forgive the guilt of forever-moving-on.

Mandira Pattnaik's (she/ her) work has appeared in Prime Number Magazine, The Fourth River, Watershed Review, West Trade Review, Variant Lit, Amsterdam Quarterly and DASH, among about 200 other places. More about her can be found at


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