Where love has gone, a sign dry-rots
in wind. We’re open but we’re not
really there. Take these irons. Cauterise
those eyes, honey. All lies
begin here, the doc nods. I’ve got
restless legs, she says. I’m caught
up in stories. Nights, we lie hot
under sheets, unquiet and high.
Where love has gone,
we parch and crack like empty plots
drying in sun. Someone gets shot
down a hole and spirals through cries.
In bed we creak like lifesize
dolls, dumb things pinned to the spot
where love has gone.
You’re forbidden eggs, oil, cheese--
dark foods that havoc the corridors
of your body.
I sneak salami slices pink as tongues,
crimp my plate with Mysore Pak,
Diet and disease,
nobody can share,
You sharpen with need,
a Turkish yataghan, a row of teeth.
Sundays, you knife through streets,
make women keen.
I, expanding mound, become a bed
of meringue fluff.
My mouth grows wide and elastic.
I could fit the world in if I tried.
The Vivid Stream
(First published in Eclectica)
Who found you, father, on the bathroom
floor that night? Sunk. An upturned
tanker spilling blood like oil, making
runny maps on green ceramic tiles.
I washed stains on hands and knees.
Nothing would scare me again.
Here, suspended on the banks
of an anxious river, pepper climbs
the dark. Cricket cries scythe
through grass. A burst of stars overhead
like pearls in the sky—it's a sticky kind
of peace. I'm thinking of you
though I'm pretending to read.
Back in the city, I wrap my ears
around other people's thoughts
and cradle love in my hands
like a bruised bird. My words swirl
in my mouth like smoke.
You required energy. I have nowhere
to spend it now. I miss the discipline
of worship, the head slicing
cleanly through air to drop
at someone's feet, the hands
which turn to jasmine,
the bent body.
Anindita Sengupta’s collection of poems City of Water was published by Sahitya Akademi in February, 2010. Her work has previously been published in several journals including Eclectica, NthPosition, Pratilipi, Cha: An Asian Journal, Kritya, and Muse India. It has also appeared in the anthologies Mosaic (Unisun, 2008), Not A Muse (Haven Books, 2009), and Poetry with Prakriti (Prakriti Foundation, 2010). In 2008, she received the Toto Funds the Arts Award for Creative Writing, annually given to two writers under thirty in India. In 2010, she was the Charles Wallace Fellow at University of Kent, England. Her personal website is at http://aninditasengupta.com