Salt and Pepper
    By Sukrita Paul Kumar

    Continuum and Other Poems

    Continuum

    My eyes devoured
    the exotic blackness on the
    pink stone loaded with history
    lying in the dark corner of
    the Professor’s
    semi-circular room,
    the room with a silver samovar
    boiling and trembling with
    Indian tea.

    I need not
    to decipher the Persian alphabet
    engraved on the darkening little
    pieces of masjids, some centuries old.

    The Professor in Persian gently moved
    in his room
    touching his antiques with his mahical
    wand, the tales of his research.

    Shahejahan sipped his tea from his
    China cup, and I from mine,
    saluting the Professor with
    Moghul etiquette;

    “Allah! Allah!
    Om! Om!”—It was that
    broken pink and white tile
    echoing and reverberating those sounds
    in that semi-circular, low roofed room;
    so oppressively silent
    in the fakir’s hut
    so loudly eloquent here.
    Fixed in a masjid first and a temple later
    it was soaked in history.

    Never will the professor be able to
    squeeze all its tales, the wonderful tales
    of Allah and Om
    multiplying in number and enhancing in power
    building contemporary monuments
    in the minds of the visitors sipping
    tea in the Professor’s dark room.

    Little Ones

    Time will not wait
    for you

    If you pause
    to wind your watch.

    •The newspaper reads well
    when
    nothing is happening

    •It was a fatal accident
    my mind encountered yours
    some moments breathed their last

    •Children play
    with toys

    adults with their
    conscience.

    •I would like
    to play
    a game of cards
    alone

    like that old, old man
    who has discovered
    his guts at last.

    •Now since the flowers
    dance in the breeze
    and the trees
    bow in their green glory

    the sand dunes of the
    desert
    spread their grainy presence
    in my memory.

    •As my eyes tailed
    the sparrow

    building a nest
    straw by straw

    I became a mother
    of three chicks.

    Winter Poems at Minnesota

    (1)
    Where the snow smiles
    in the moonlight

    Buried below
    lie the flowers
    that bloom in summer

    (2)
    It’s snowing outside

    Wave after wave
    Strangers bond
    In warmth

    (3)
    Black snow on the road
    Is treacherous
    as the white night
    At full moon
    Snowflakes float in mid air

    Looking for the ground
    To settle or
    Melt away

    (4)
    Under the bridge
    The white sheet of river

    Emotions in cold storage

    (5)
    This is metropolitan snow
    Screaming police vans
    And death bells
    of ambulances
    pierce the silence
    Not the whistling of the breeze
    Nor the singing birds.

    (6)
    Mountains of snow sitting snugly
    protected by gods and mythology
    in the laps
    of sacred Himalayas

    Down here
    Snow cleared
    Overnight
    With machines and shovels.

    (7)
    Snow women
    Lonesome

    on the white streets
    of the white continent.

    (8)
    A little before every stop
    The wrinkled voice rose from the
    Folds of the tattered coat
    “This is my stop
    This is where I get down”

    But he never got off the bus
    into the snow outside
    He had no destination.

    (9)
    The smell of fresh snow
    Blowing off
    the sands of desert
    In the mind

    Sowing seeds
    anew.

    (10)
    Flakes of snow
    Dwindling and tossing

    Constructing virginity

    For the sun in spring
    to melt it away.

    (11)
    The autocratic white
    Of snow-mounds

    forbids
    Movement
    noise and colour.

    (12)
    Emperor penguins
    Hold their babies
    in their body folds
    through months of
    Arctic blizzards and snow

    Ruling with
    Power over the universe.

    The Oaks of Summerhill

    Ancient oaks
    pregnant with
    untold tales,
    witnesses of
    unwritten history,
    twist and turn
    spreading over
    mute mountains

    Oaks and sages
    share their wisdom,
    tuned to the
    orchestrated din
    of the invisible insects
    from the forest folds.

    Babies grow in love
    and the aged
    curl in confident wrinkles…

    all in faith
    the faith of love
    in the face of death.

    The Myth of Re-creation

    The white of the bark
    Is the frozen heart of the white
    Turned white when Columbus landed on the shores
    of what he thought, the land of spices

    The deepening red of the leaves every fall thence
    Is not the sudden blushing of the damsel
    It is the blood of the Indians rising from
    The womb of the earth below
    Forever pregnant
    with the lava of unrecorded genocide
    Streams of leaves dropping as tears

    Every inch savagely cultivated
    Beauty a metaphor of atrocity
    Moments of joy
    Pumped from lungs on ventilators
    Men and women in love
    their hearts beating on pacemakers

    Staking their riches at our casinos
    They will lose
    So said the Chief each year
    We’ll get our land back
    With their money,
    Let the season pass.

    An established poet and critic, Sukrita Paul Kumar (born in Kenya) was an invited poet and Fellow at the prestigious International Writing Programme, Iowa, USA. Former Fellow of IIAS (Shimla), and honorary faculty at Durrell Centre at Corfu, Greece, she has published several collections of poetry, translations, critical works and has held exhibitions of her paintings. She held the Aruna Asaf Ali Chair at the University of Delhi. Her latest collection of poems is Vanishing Words (Hawakal).

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