Three Poems

    By Anannya Dasgupta

    Birds on the Edge of a City

    We went to watch birds
    in the backwaters of Chennai.
    Left-over ocean in brackish lakes
    where the water hyacinth is
    slowly squeezing-out its living air,
    where rushes of wild reeds
    hold on to residues of smoke
    from exhausts of cars on the highway.

    Holding on to what ought to have been let go.
    Held on by what has nowhere else to go.

    But even in this we find a small paradise.
    On an island of mud and rocks – an acacia tree.
    On its branches – egrets and cormorants,
    dipping pin tails swimming close by.
    Purple herons swoop in, and overhead –
    a scoop of pelicans fly.

    Driving back, we stop at the Koovum river
    not speaking of the effluents it carries
    – the sins of others, not dredging bottoms,
    not holding grudges. We see
    one dead fish and a sunset painted in storks.

    Borne by some conviction that survives
    the poison of our city, the birds come back
    to perch on its edges.

    Their magnificence at odds with our nature
    like the flapping of goose wings in wooden clappers
    like the wound-up cuckoo bird on a short spring.

    Morning walk

    Slugs, sunbirds
    chameleons
    (startled still)
    young lemons
    on a lemon tree

    Dark Sal leaves,
    Champas fallen
    on the grass, with
    them (bare foot
    bare soul) me.

    Imprints of the Tethys Sea

    Long ago the plates
    of our planet moved apart.
    The Tethys sea drowned
    leaving behind its light still
    rippling on rocks.
    Long ago the plates
    of our planet moved apart
    and came closer to us.
    Keeping for us the impression
    of water on rocks, bringing us
    signs, marks of memory
    not our own. Keeping us,
    if we’d believe, in the deep time
    held in the bones of a living earth.

    Like plates of the planet moved
    apart, of drownings we don’t
    yet speak, it isn’t for us to know
    what will become. If the patter
    of playful feet, if the touch of
    small hands will learn from
    impressions of scars not their own
    of our light and our dark,
    of our time. Not what we
    variably recall of our lived lives,
    but what we know in our bones
    without proof as our Tethys seas.

    Anannya Dasgupta is a poet and artist who lives in Chennai. She is the author of a book of poems Between Sure Places. Her poetry can also be found in Hakara, All Roads Will Lead You Home, Wasafiri, Pyrenees Fountain, Ponder Savant and South Florida Poetry Journal among others.

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