By Shyamasri Maji
There’s no fear if the night closes on us now,
The nightmares bracing my past
Have bloomed into seasonal flowers.
They make my feet fragrant in the grass,
Though I hear the roots of a poison-tree
Digging deep into the aching corns
You left unattended on our way to the weekly mart,
In the silence of dandruff menacing your black T-shirt.
I rolled my patience into a French bun
And re-collected togetherness in flakes of dried skin
I waited for thunder and rain
In the dark clouds of your stretching arms.
Motifs of Japanese kites
Fluttered in the shawl of my embroidered love.
I rested my head on your shoulder softly
You drove all night through the roaring white
Along the milky waves, in sugar-coated moonlight.
Perhaps, we’ll not meet again
To have a cup of tea together
At the café that knows us well
For five summers and five winters.
Piled up in hand-knit sweaters
The wardrobe of our moments
Was given away to the termites
We watched them nibbling silently
The paisleys on the Kashmiri shawl.
When the dust of the city
Crept into our ragged rooms
Through a winding staircase
We trembled like lambs in the
Butcher’s shop for some time
Soon we started wearing masks
And danced very well in parties
To the lyrics of a popular song –
We stretched our arms in the sky
Like the branches of a leafless tree
Half-dead, half-alive to the weevil
Gnawing at our wooden hearts –
Autumn, December and March…
The piping hot tea is getting cold
Why can’t you sip it with a smile?
Five minutes left for your cab to arrive
May I telephone you tonight? Last time…
You waved at me, the cab is gone…
The whiff of your perfume settled slowly
In the stains of our half-drunk tea cups
At the café that knew us for five years.
I thought of scribbling no more
No more scratching the paper with pain,
I decided to tie my hands with tight rope
So that they cannot not seize the ink and pen
To write poems of love and puerile longing
In the season of sickness on this sordid crust.
I stared at the world with a camera in the rain
Clicking blurred pictures of all that was real,
All that was fantastic, in hue and shape –
Goodies wrapped with golden tape.
Perhaps I sought pleasure in chewing the pain
Of an afternoon that spilled coffee on my dress,
I pulled off, pulled out, decoded to undress.
The mirror in the loo smiled at the scars on my skin
Their tete-a-tete was inaudible to the human ear.
My silence floated with the mist in the evening air.
It flew with the scattered sores of the bleeding sky,
Above the crimson clouds, hearing the moon’s sigh.
I wore the opaque night on my bruises
I hid my pain in the cave of a lover’s body.
We groped in the darkness of dense light,
Fingered the cobwebs curtaining our souls
To crawl into the dumbness of lovemaking –
From our bare bodies to strange sites!
I cannot recall when our tears stopped flowing,
“Even our tears betrayed us,” you sighed one day.
We fumbled in the maze of a rock-strewn terrain.
There was no return from here, no wish for gain.
Fortnightly when we called each other for aid,
The scratches called us back, in a dull refrain.
A Married Man!
Dreams dotted the line of the dark sea
He lay like the starlit sky upon me.
Shreds of the moon floated in the turbid waters,
Making love, forgetting facts in nocturnal glitters.
A shrill ringtone was enough to shatter the snooze:
“Don’t forget the baby’s diapers, the grocery
My diamond earrings, clothes from the laundry…”
Her voice expanded aloud –
Like the cracks on my feet in grey winter,
In dim twilight, I had donned her sweater.
In a minute he put on his crumpled shirt,
Adjusted his tie, scrolled the online mart,
A passionate hug could not pull him back.
He wiped my cheeks, planted a goodbye kiss,
Left my pleading hand to explain his stand:
“Honey! God damn, you must understand,
How do I deny, right under this ceiling fan?
I have commitments, I am a married man!”
Shyamasri Maji is an Assistant Professor of English at Durgapur Women’s College, West Bengal, India. She writes short stories and poems in English. Her short stories have been published in Unish Kuri (ABP), Muse India, Story Mirror and Six Seasons Review. Her poems have been published in Setu, Kolkata Fusion (a blog), Indian Periodical and Teesta Review. She is the recipient of Independent Research Fellowship 2018-19 at Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute, Kolkata. Under this fellowship programme, she completed a short-term project on select documentary films on the Anglo-Indian community. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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