"Bhutia market was a permanent wild pomegranate forest": Poetry by Sekhar Banerjee

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"Bhutia market was a permanent wild pomegranate forest": Poetry by Sekhar Banerjee

Two Poems by Sekhar Banerjee

Points in Time

When you do not think of someone
for three consecutive days, you suddenly realize
in a yellow afternoon
in spring
a private clothesline has snapped
where you used to spread your breath, two hands
and sleep
They now fall everywhere like parched deciduous leaves
It is now your past, an old rusty trunk –
a souvenir
of an ironsmith, long since vanished

When you already know
what the other person is going to state
in exactly how many open and closed syllables
in a small exchange of frayed words
with adequate pause,
you understand the book of scarlet verse has finally ended
and tossed
beyond the margin of a gloomy night, tiringly long
Now, it is on the last line of an elegiac poem – a narrow track,
where you both now stand decidedly firm,
separating the memory of violet hyacinths
and white chrysanthemums
It is your present at last

It is now an empty room with closed, small windows
and hard walls;
here you both hang photographs
of a grey evening, a wilting song or a sun-burnt noon
The photographs and the B-flat major air still seem almost fresh
like an old wound
Your eyelids again flutter in your white early morning sleep
in search of another fragile dream
and a new red scar
It is probably your future

*

Bhutia Market, Terai

Every alternate autumn, my mother would find
flaws in the house we had:
old tin roof, a leafless tree in the south,
bossy landlord
damp backyard, insufficient air, noisy neighbourhood,
a late sun,
and my mother would move to east, west, north and south
with trunks, flower pots, furniture and us
like an angry cat holding everything by their necks
to search a safe corner in autumn

Before autumn folded into winter like an oversized tent
in the small town where we lived in eleven
houses on rent for twenty-one years, our sweaters always smelt
of wild pomegranates

Buddhist sweater merchants from the hills
would arrive with wild pomegranate-smelling sweaters
and oversized shawls in autumn
with tiger’s paw, cucumber seed, squash-leaf designs
and some mysterious Buddhist motifs
We would roam in Bhutia market from all directions –
east, west, north and south
in the small town of that autumn
to buy a few pomegranate-smelling sweaters
and oversized shawls

Bhutia market was a permanent wild pomegranate forest
in autumn
So far I can recall,
my mother always smelt of plum. Our sweaters lost
the wild pomegranate smell by the time
spring danced
on our rented courtyard. Sweaters big and small,
also danced on clotheslines under the warm sun
before they were packed
into large trunks. They smelt of only plum.

***

Sekhar Banerjee is an author. He has four poetry collections and a monograph on an Indo-Nepal border tribe to his credit. His works have been published in Indian Literature, The Bitter Oleander, Ink Sweat and Tears, Kitaab and elsewhere. He lives in Kolkata, India.

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