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A god grieving

Three poems by Amlanjyoti Goswami

Detail, Sayed Haider Raza


Deep dark gravy
The river still.
Sometimes, pigeon
Sometimes, duck. Venison.
Thick with memory
Furrowing ancient tastes,
Tongue a plough,
Red earth.
Crops dark as kitchen soot,
Dark as sesame.

Eat, child, eat,
Grow tall as the
Bamboo lining
The cows come home.
See your face, brass
As the plate,
Round as planets
Large and small.
Eat some green as well.

Blow smoke into my face,
Blow hard, the fire
Must glow,
Red as my streaming chin,
My lips, betelnut red, original
Red, earth red.

My hair is white as
Summer noon sky.
A banyan creeper,
Ancient, the village we gather,
For one last Bihu feast.

Tomorrow, the sky will turn
An empty canvas
No one ever knows, with time.
The crops came in the
Cart, carrying sunshine.

I am grandmother.
Your daughter will remember me,
In her tongue,
Whenever you mention gravy
In microwaves.
Whenever, the trace of tongue
Hints curry.

A god grieving

When Karna fell,
A passing soldier asked: Why?
Why didn’t the better archer win?
And by far, the better man.

This isn’t just.

Another, smoking a chillum,
Dead of night,
The blood dry:

That would change nature’s wheels.
Imagine Krishna, driving the chariot, with no Arjun
Into the crowd of battle,
We would all make way,
But a god grieving?

How could humankind survive
a god grieving?

The Weather in Benares

Older than death, Benares survives time.
Her houses creak with sunrise.

Her waters pure as typhoid.
Her temperature, otherworldly.

Mind trumps matter in Benares.
But matter isn’t far behind,

It is everywhere.
Even in these ashes.

Evening boats sink slowly
Into darkness, the other shore

We cannot see
Even with a third eye.

By dawn, the lamps too
are no longer there.

Amlanjyoti Goswami’s poems have been published in India, Nepal, Hong Kong, the UK, USA, South Africa, Kenya and Germany, including the anthologies 40 under 40: An Anthology of Post Globalisation Poetry (Poetrywala) and A Change of Climate (Manchester Metropolitan University, Environmental Justice Foundation and the University of Edinburgh). He grew up in Guwahati, Assam and lives in Delhi.