In Krishna Udayasankar’s debut full-length collection of poetry, “Objects of Affection,” the narrators of all the works are inanimate objects, observing their owners’ memories, motives, and present actions. These pieces are quite striking and deeply intriguing for normal, everyday items. Even the cover of Objects is outstanding and it’s just scattered fruit loops cereal on asphalt, yet it’s one of the most unexpected and gorgeous covers I ever came across. Udayasankar takes the dull and mundane items and transforms them into these beautiful and thoughtful personas who truly care for their owners and know their thoughts, wishes, and failures. They want more for their humans, but understand that it doesn’t always work out that way. These objects are just so elegant and wise and they feel pain for their owner. Like in “F5” where the individual relentlessly pushes that keyboard button in hopes for of a long-awaited response:
“Her slender fingertip never spills over my beveled bounds
it runs over me in its slow, measured, yet fleeting caress. She
doesn’t touch any of the others around me the same way,
With them, her fingers are fast and insistent, descending in
confident harmony laced, on occasion, with aggression,
particularly the thumb.
Our union is set to silence, a contemplative pause the
exceptionless prelude to her touch, anticipation, the need
heightened by the promise of near fulfillment.
Sometimes her finger draws near, hovers, grazing my
upraised edges, but she takes it away. I can see her inner
struggle. I watch, not unfeeling, as she reminds herself with
all the force of emotionally-flawed reason that there were no
emails or messages but three minutes and forty-seconds
ago, and that if he did send electronic word then the
technological pigeon knew well to alert, to draw her attention
to the missive in its keeping with flashing windows and
So much careful detailed description on a simple gesture that lasts only a second. It’s very measured and precise. I loved it; it took my breath away. Udayasankar packs so much in a few paragraphs. I don’t ever recall seeing a poem or even prose that’s this elaborate and intimate., like the following excerpt titled “Watch“:
“I know her pulse. She wears me on her left hand, face inwards, flush against the skin and nerve of her wrist in a soft kiss. I feel her every thought and move, the cadence of rhythm that is her heart, the sighs, the rise and fall and strum.”
It knows its owner on a level that’s beyond any lover, child, or mother. It’s a reliable mainstay that will observe the person through all their mistakes and triumphs. But as you read the collection, it gets more distraught and despairing. The objects witness the inner works of man, sometimes knowing more than their human counterparts. Yet they must remain silent, no matter how much they want to council their owners. It makes you wonder what your own objects would say to you, what advice they’d give, and what they want you to pay attention to. Although it would be a bit terrifying to know that an item knows more about your world and even yourself, more than you do.
You can preview more of Udayasankar’s collection of poetry here and buy it at the Booksactually online store here. The Math Paper Press of Singapore seems to have gathered a strong collection of poetry that I can’t wait to dive in. I’m excited to read more from them and Krishna Udayasankar. Anyone who can turn an innocuous object into a sincere, moving, and silent guardian deserves your attention, just like their publisher. Definitely be on the lookout for them.
Eileen Ramos is a Filipina-American writer with a deep, abiding love for words. This passion drives her to read, create, and absorb all she can. Let’s hope it ends well. Read more by Eileen on her blog.