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A Map of the City of Tenderness

By Rukmini Banerjee

Don’t colour me red and then colour me blue
The multiverse in my eyes can only reflect
Your black empire of gargantuan pigs under the bridge.
The first time I saw your kingdom I was in a taxi
I saw your sternum and then your lips.
To me it looked
Like coordinates of a map to somewhere else
For which I left home and my doomed language.

I cannot read your walls anymore
Their light carry different meanings through the glamour of rectification.
Leaving behind a language for you
Meant leaving
A spine and thick incomprehension
It meant mistaking the street lights
For gold blades crowning those mangled skyscrapers.

What becomes a division of space and time, my memory
Connects with motion stretching across the curvature of your lips.
Now looking together above the fathomless oddments
You found me nestled between me and my desire.
Now my form, a storyline like the burned background
In an old photo studio where they once transformed energy to harmony.

Imagine whose hands on my shoulders darkened by despair
Endangered a patchwork of people sleeping in the wild
Dogs being bullies and colours uncoupling from past to present
Absorbing incubating memories made of grainy meaning

I refuse your present of intelligibility with connection
As sentience of objects of permanence my city cannot hold
When water floods in, I step outside to see two half-dead crows
Fighting love off each other’s mouths.

Painting: Gallery Kolkata

Rukmini Banerjee is a queer poet, translator and researcher. She is interested in the connection and disconnection of bodies with mind and the (mis) management of technology in everyday lives. Her poetry has appeared in The World That Belongs To Us: An Anthology of Queer Poetry from South Asia and magazine Livewire. Her translations have appeared in Friendship as Social Justice Activism.


For more stories, read Café Dissensus Everyday, the blog of Café Dissensus Magazine.

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