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Subhro Bandopadhyay

Translated by the author and Ranjit Hoskote

About Presences

(for Bhaswati)


It is not broken
we are walking through a lawn covered with glass
Why do we have to hide the dew
on the bodies of question-less evenings?

You moved away without saying anything
Serenity occupied your space

Your name is nowhere
There is only your presence


I stabbed a broken piece of mirror in my proper noun
No search is left
Neither answer nor direction

Is a piece of stone enough for the self?

You are the sole recipient

Of the presence that isn’t there…
Glass pronouns

(for Bhaswati)


You are a broken song, nailed to the body of April.
This rocky fall of morning is a shivered glass
Exposing, liberating you to a fragrance
of boiling rice

a tune is born on the line of dawn,
when a metallic trunk of a leafless tree grows violently —
Can the shadow of my cheek still offer flesh? To whom?
Why do the fletched blades fly towards refugee camps?
Time curdles on the yellow of classical music…

Tell me
are the old songs now
letters to be read alone?


You could have been a blue bokul sometime
Your designed tread-path
towards the pilgrim’s pale robe
vanishes into a glass cloud
It is the ancient language that breaks
in the silence of a white flower
in the evening that remained floating
Is it the sound of your anklet?
Is this awaiting the rounded vibration
of cowbells in a valley?
You are a broken song, nailed to the body of April.


The glass from your songs float,
some dry seeds in the air
I went down a riverbank towards the used language
simple as an easy bath
Every unheard sound is named rain in this city
Brown lights surround my homecoming

The dusty sound of a piano
that creates a column from the days without music

LP spring means S.D. Burman
doesn’t it?
You’re going to break it violently
You could have been a blue bokul sometime.
Leopard City

The old town is actually like an old man’s brain
countries, nationalities, lanes and alleys entwine
Sultani Delhi is burning in front of Nadir Shah
The Santo Domingo church —
Spanish ships still have not arrived in the Caribbean
A Guatemalan girl returns from the market place, from civil war

After all this we look at ourselves
Some cypresses have sprung up on dry lines of thought
The summer — the bright nurse — is with the weak boy

I keep open the last doors of poetry
I, we, fear some broken rafts
and some living migration in them, cadaver
the letters are candescents now
a rain of ash on the womb of silence
the night is in flames with pine wine and garden

Where to place all these elements in our thorny atlas?


Read the Bengali originals here.