Orphan Smile How hard it is for the stars to weave a story. It breaks through the wall and chain, and then in turn, with eyes closed. Words filter into dark rooms, unnoticeably, to the tune of the evening. It is not unexpected, nor is it striped, wood pencils sketch grey and grey sky. Each strum is a haze that thins and fades, the one who sings with all the heart for a while, is now trapped in the web of memory. Each mirror reflects the orphan smile, what remains is the rising smoke of the pyres. Ancient Palms We must learn to read, to hold them ever among the corn fields of the golden year. Before our eyes, the deep unique shadows take me up and nurse in those ancient palms. A few of the lightning smell the low grass darkness overhead and the rain comes on us. Nights playing metaphor and carving clay, silences need breaks or commas or dash. To ease pain, to heal, to suppress anger death is a tangent from grief, from anguish. Drowning in the self-doubt, the dystopic stars refer like bushfires, the hidden tears. The spatter of raindrops, low clouds drill no, not we, some yielded, we have it still. Grandma’s Kitchen Sameness has a savour for us; She cooks mouth-watering food. Grandma’s kitchen always shares unknown recipes. Not knowing why scissors at times get suspended in her hand, tears pooling at the corners of her eyes, she nearly quit breathing. and yet her lips break into a lovely rain song. She steps outside to snip chives from the kitchen garden, Turns away, cuts the herbs and rushes back inside as the onions are burning and adds a few more, then resumes stirring the garlic citrus sauce and setting the table Still remember her homemade Kathi roll, à la burrito and we eat mindfully with beans, cheese and old-time tortilla. Someday we have the rustic stew with mixed vegetables flavoured with green chillies, mints, and ginger. Eggs crack into to finish with tomato and potato slices. Chupatti with paneer and mango prickles Those fragrant and vivid days and nights fill our memories. Roots A time before; the breeze that passes carries low whispers, moments are transitory, decay in silence. There is darkness there, but warmth? I remember how long the winter was, how pure, how dense. Smile mutters unknown names, bed-time verses, through the wide doors of brick houses. Window sills scribble poetry behind the flower pots, small shops sell marbles and lollipops. The black coffee turns cold, cigarettes burn to ashes, words hide behind the clustered stems. My roots are for this, my voice is soft-earth, much sun through tiny leaves. Streaming rays bleed alizarin crimson inside, The streets are now quieted. Binary On the narrow edge of the image the sky so blue and speckled the footprint, the drifting boat of an imperfect line, a smudge, smile burns in the wick of the candle. Here, from the sharp bend of the carpeted street you close your eyes and remember being at the imaginary rooftop sun is blaring down on the asphalt. you close your eyes and remember one image supporting the other neither unverified. Metamorphosis Adumbrate the blue sky in all its glory the world is seen by the insane, if this is what passes for life and hope. The ghastly memory of the Stoneman still lingers midnight moon drifting away with fire-like clouds, somewhere blue dots mean tiny stars. Drums pound at the distance, laughter mutates colour of the skin cleaves between black and white, days steep into numbness, voices slice surgically through the haves and have-nots. Crows speak-shout, all smiles close and unwelcoming west winds become parody in my body, men and women reach for bottles and glasses A single word from the mouth slides away atomising the conversation, touching in growing silence, the city vernacular. Celebration Fried onions, two crushed garlic cloves and dried fish cheddar with cucumber and marmalade sandwiches then we sleep and sleep, we sleep well. Rice and boiled potatoes or a jumpy fish with herbs and chiles, black beans and mango chutney love, love, love it always. Lemony carrot and cauliflower soup cup vegetables, crusty loaf not enough, complete with star-fried spicy asparagus and fine rice. In search of a mouth-watering dish that can simmer away all afternoon in a slow cooker or above a low flame on the stove, Country chicken and hilsa fish, mother’s love descending as soft as teardrops but doesn’t smell that different. And we are celebrating for days, months and years. Forgotten Canvas Each and every brushstroke of low clouds reshapes my belief, rusted words ask my wet palms to half-open. How fast it sheds light on the dark corner often go unnoticed and remain untold, it’s immersive, it’s very tender. Atmospheric and tense, until the moment comes when the laughter splits the sunrays, reveal memories’ dark faces. Whispers leave portico, unwashed syllables drop disabled letters, dust collects sorrows and sparrows pick rice grains in silence. Large stones, engraved with lines of poetry, envelope the large hyacinth pond, the sun still falls on the wooden doors.
Gopal Lahiri is a Kolkata-based bilingual poet, critic, editor, writer and translator with 23 volumes of poetry, 15 volumes in English and 8 in Bengali, including three joint books. His poetry is published in twelve countries and translated in fourteen languages.