Poem: Lohagarh Stanzas


By Sekhar Banerjee

A road in the hills winds its way like a groove
of a giant screw fitted to the wet sky. Every mountain is a screw
fitted to the sky. It is monsoon again;
every road becomes a brook and every brook a stream   

Here I am in this fluid gloom and soft light in Lohagarh north
along the India-Nepal border
where elephants roam to supervise the cornfields
and the earthworms. It’s neither a day nor a complete night
It rains here all the time  

I lay on my bed – old wooden walls, smell of tea and yellow air,
two windows distilling light – they are my eyes,
and the dimness in the room is my head. If it is a night,
it is so clearly dreamless   
If it is a day, it is full of wrong syllables of silence

I listen to the banter of the rain and the hum
of the cumulonimbus clouds around
With incomplete sketches of tropic of Capricorn,
I sleep here like an old wound  

I stroll around Lohagarh – the iron-hill, and I think
the monsoon wants every syllable and note
to be wet and different like old Tchaikovsky
and young Debussy to the audience – the frogs, panisaaj trees,  
puddles of slush, me and the lichens  

I listen to my breath – a binary exercise to exist
with truth and lie
It resonates with the rain outside – like an evening following
a water tank. I scream, I pant, I sigh
My umbrella is now an extension of me,
a sinewy bone from my right hand and an abundant canopy
I am now a middle-aged panisaaj tree

My feet are my roots – I carry my roots wherever I go
and I keep slush, the raindrops, the black clouds
in my head and shirt pocket. This is a diary of the fallen –
like a drop of water falling  on a window pane – my eyes;
and I see tear drops hanging on every bougainvillea tree,
as though, someone somewhere is constantly giving in
to the gravitation of falling

Every maroon orchid in the chilaune trees Lohagarh know,
rain now cleanses every pore in the foothill road,
and fills up all gaps
like a washed painting of long-ago: every particle of rain is now
every particle of maroon orchid;
every particle of road is every particle of a tree;
every particle of  the rain is now every particle of  me  

Rain and I, Orchid and rain, road and me, rain and Lohagarh
exchange clothes in the middle of the day:
I am now a road, rain is orchid, foothills is tree,
traffic signal is cloud, and Lohagarh is now me

I taste the raindrops to know how our sorrows turn
into ellipses when they hit the window pane; Salt returns
its sharp teeth. It is elliptical like all our philosophies
of fall, though off centre, as if,
nothing is a centre anymore – like a insomniac’s mind. Everything
becomes elliptical before a fall, I understand
in Lohagarh   

Sekhar Banerjee
 is a bilingual writer. He has four collections of poems and a monograph on an Indo-Nepal border tribe to his credit.


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Read the latest issue of Cafe Dissensus Magazine, “Poetics and politics of the ‘everyday’: Engaging with India’s northeast”, edited by Bhumika R, IIT Jammu and Suranjana Choudhury, NEHU, India.

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