People of Letters

Response Gallery

Daljit  Nagra


Daljit Nagra

Conch by Daljit  Nagra Click image for a larger view

Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford
Accession number: 1938.34.65

With your snail house memories
of death, you’d be raised to the heavens
to bawl at the ear of a shipwrecked
dawn for some autochthonous cause.
Today, you’re invested in a museum,
under reasonable light you hold
your own, and remain an inspiration
who stops this viewer in his tracks
with figurative gusto. Your dinted,
braille head leads me to the coiled
neck of the spire reminiscent of
strangulation by hair or caul trauma.
By fisherman’s pluck, I’d hold you
to sense your engraved fretwork,
your nicka-insignia like the ballsy
front of a mughal warrior. I fear
I’m on safe ground in assuming
you’re the bone-storm augury of bloodshed.
If it’s not too late in our lives, I’d feel
the breath of Vishnu blow on his mighty
shankha, his conch, so his Ommm plumes
through the veil of paradise to smooth
the waves of the universe. Oh Vishnu,
pray for us now.