Possession by Shanta Acharya



Shanta Acharya was born and educated in Cuttack, India. She won a scholarship to Oxford, where she was among the first batch of women admitted to Worcester College in 1979. A recipient of the Violet Vaughan Morgan Fellowship, she was awarded the Doctor of Philosophy for her work on Ralph Waldo Emerson. She was a Visiting Scholar in the Department of English and American Literature and Languages at Harvard University. The author of twelve books, her publications range from poetry, literary criticism and fiction to finance. Her latest books of poetry are Imagine: New and Selected Poems (HarperCollins, 2017), and What Survives Is The Singing (Indigo Dreams, 2020), which includes her poem ‘Possession’. www.shantaacharya.com




























When I lost something valuable,

I gave it a name, inscribed it on a pebble,


piece of wood, paper, cloth or shell,

placed it in my handbag, let the words settle


in with the rest of my losses defining me –

keys to my anxiety and loneliness, 


notebook and pen to record panic attacks,

iPhone, lipstick, comb, cards calling for attention,


tissues folded in cellophanes of adjustment –

carrying on with my chores as if nothing


was the matter, clutching my grief

like a mascot, trying to transcend


that feeling of things missing, life passing,

shrinking, until disappointment rushes in,


weighing me down with further losses,

and my bag too heavy to hold my dreams,


complains this is no way to treasure

hard-earned gifts enriched by dispossession,


awaken to the true nature of being,

no longer be defined by this or that.


Shanta Acharya