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Even Bricks Need Love

By Nabina Das

I

After fog, heap, bridge, debris and rip
it seems love poems didn’t need
that absinthe any more –
as much these sudden roads needed our sap
once through the isolation, their sleep.
Our love covered πr2, nothing greater would suffice.
Come through that crack in the radius, you spoke –
across the blueprint of the fences, barricades
in the torn alley where civilisation is distilled.
Raise the cup, even bricks need love –
my hands blessedly drunk, our lips just on lips.

II

The belly of the earth is split open
behind my pristine (or so I think) terrace,
men at work, men howling, men
coming out of their shells of starvation.
That ancient act of food gathering –
but they still huddle hungry inside a shanty tarp.
A woman in an orange sari fills a broken bucket
only one man shouts, his spotless shirt, tongue whiplash.

III

When I say ‘pain’, he has already turned to the middle
page of The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir.
The siren has gone off for the ants to file out of
their human silos of grind – grain-less, stressed.
When I say ‘soledad’ means the sky cannot hold alone,
he reads aloud how in Haiti people are left to rot;
we’re Blake’s tigers, burning bright, only in desolation…
tearing our own sinews, snarling at the motorcades
in the forest of the night, we, our hearts gone concrete.

IV

Take my bones, take and cook them
thick. Feed the broth to hunger’s mouth.
Take the pores and seal them with hope.
Take the tarred roads grass-lined by my hair
dye them in your chemicals, faraway smoke stacks
factories running on flagrancy and fear, take
all my fingers and erect the traffic lights anew.
Make my eyes your morning once, then evening –
gem stones we will want to eat in vain. Take
this body of the woman who left, to come back.
To Hathras, to Hathras, bellowed the guy at the bus –
I was given a god to love. And that shibboleth fell
to the lilt of my heart-flower, wild wild grass –
take my tongue that burns: what’s death to us?

V

Ask yourself – have you been breathing through
Your mouth or your nose? Also, see the smell of rain.
Ask yourself – what unknown hands will help by
Your side when you switch beds, the linen stark white
Bland like the ceiling above, while the IV pipe shakes.
Ask yourself – did the ambulance cries erupt high and low
In your dreams. Slow tears of those almost-gone, in pain.
Ask yourself – will you still taste, long for the same way
Your overpasses, pillars, walls, slowly crumbling in their seams.

VI

One whole year of lovelessness
One dream I had last night is of you
A curtain flying in the wind, it’s a sea side
I taste salt from your roots and you too slake
Your thirst with the aroma I shed from my crevices
We talk food we didn’t eat and love over heat
From our mouths. Outside, the city still waits like a hunter’s trap.

Painting: Art Majeur

Bio:
Nabina Das
is the author of Sanskarnama, a poetry volume. Most recently she has edited WITNESS: The Red River Book of Poetry of Dissent. She has also published a novel, a short fiction collection, and two other books of poems. Her fourth poetry collection is forthcoming from Yoda Press in 2022.

***

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

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