By Sumana Roy
All of this now seems natural –
your looking at the traffic lights instead of me,
the automobiles’ wind in your hair,
your greasy shadow at the crossing.
I’ve watched you from behind,
taking that to be my natural place.
Just as I’ve watched your back
as you slept,
imagining your breathing
like a farmer imagines his harvest.
I’ve read your texts starting from the end,
watched how they led to ‘I’ –
that was the only way to reach you,
walking backwards to where you started.
Reaching there I have waited –
looked for signs, not of hair or other postage,
but of an absence …
Everywhere I have arrived late,
after you and this city were already made,
when there was nothing left to create …
I’ve watched you like I have this city –
like a mason without a job,
pairing without repairing,
knowing that I was only
laying roads on water.
But I’ve still waited –
stood outside your gate,
to feel the sense of the ancient:
in you, and this life that holds you hostage.
Everywhere I’ve arrived late,
everywhere I’ve ignored absence
(to be present is to acknowledge) …
I’ve been outside glass and outside petal,
I’ve been outside the shiver of the city,
of its fists, feasts and metal …
This waiting, this twilight, this weight
you took as homage.
Note: Bahiragata is a Bengali word, the meaning of which the poet wishes to leave untranslated in the poem.
Painting: Ananta Mandal
Sumana Roy is the author of How I became a Tree, a work of nonfiction, Missing: A Novel, Out of Syllabus: Poems, and My Mother’s Lover and Other Stories, a collection of short stories.
For more stories, read Café Dissensus Everyday, the blog of Café Dissensus Magazine.