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Fidelity: Three poems

Alolika Dutta

Salvador Dalí, The Accommodations of Desire, 1929, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City | Image courtesy WikiArt


i. m. Salvador Dalí (1904-1989)

In the morning, white light floods into the room,
Surging through your white face, your white limbs,
And the white hair that gathers along your thighs
In rows and billows from your scalp like incense.
The light consumes everything, even the wedge
Of cheese under the clock. Time is absent. 

The clock is a glaring white circle; not a number appears.
You compare it to the moon. But the light refuses
To leave. The hills look as they did at daybreak,
The tide is still, the wick burns without oil.
The sun will remain in the east today, distant
As a husband. After the rain last night, here is a day 

Of stillness. The neighbours draw their curtains:
The only movement I will witness today. Their haste
Shows in their hands. But we must not draw our
Curtains, especially not in haste. We must bring
This stillness into our homes, no matter how small,
And sit with it for long. We must settle into our

Nothingness. Let this day be vacant. Let these hands
Be idle. Let this body vegetate. Motion is heresy.*
Leisure, our foremost duty. Without knowledge
Of the hour, we are slaves to no body, shackled to no
Thing. Stretched across the bed, you look at
The sparrows and the squirrels run between the grilles. 

There is no sound. The birds talk with their eyes,
Even the wind hesitates, even the waves push away;
To speak would be indecency. All I hear is this silence,
This maternal silence, sitting on the edge of our bed.
A rock near the shore looks like the face of an old sailor,
The old sailor looks like you. A wisp of your hair 

Curls around my nipple like a silver ring. I mount you.
For how long have you been so frail? Age is shallow.
Even as your bones show through your skin, your nails
Leave crescent moons along my hips. There is such joy
In your brows, in your mouth, in the well of your chin.
The clock starts to burn. A light wind dances over our bodies 

Like a dream.

*Cioran, E. M., and Marthiel Mathews. “A Portrait of Civilized Man.” The Hudson Review, vol. 17, no. 1, Hudson Review, Inc, 1964, pp. 9–20,


Noli Me Tangere

In the dark, nobody knows where we stand,
Or if we are here at all. We may, therefore,
Remain here, almost still, almost gone,
Or we may leave, almost gone, almost still.

Nothing holds in the space that separates
The night from itself.



A solitary hibiscus in our neighbour’s balcony
Is leaning towards the sun, towards you,
Who is looking at her through our window.
You are naked, feeding on the light.

Her gossamer body, her reds and her whites,
Her tall pistil with dots of yellow, her tender
Stigma and her moist center are spread wide
Open, to her deep black, only for you.

Everything around her is vapid. The grape
Under my tongue bursts; the skin, her petals
And the flesh, all hers. I sit behind you,
Your shadow shields my breasts from the sun.

But you disappear. She is all there is to this morning.
The milk in your cup is hibiscine nectar. Leave,
Place your mouth on her. Drink from under her ovaries.
When you return, kiss her sweetness into my mouth. 

Alolika Dutta is a Bombay-based poet and painter. Her poems have appeared in The Indian Quarterly, The Boston Globe, Scroll, Coldnoon, among others, and are forthcoming in the Helter Skelter Anthology of New Writing.