"You earn death bit by bit": Three poems by Sekhar Banerjee that you cannot and should not miss.

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"You earn death bit by bit": Three poems by Sekhar Banerjee that you cannot and should not miss.

Poetry by Sekhar Banerjee

Scheme of the Post Office

In spring, I try to catch the butterflies
in their midday sleep; they uneasily flit
Disowned letters flutter everywhere, they breed

in a forest of Jamun trees
and words die here very slowly and merge
with our skin

Do we have a permanent address? Yes or no?
I ask the butterflies, the envelops and the Jamun forest
Butterflies nonetheless flit

I understand familiarity breeds almost nothing
There must be some greater scheme
of the General Post Office: I cannot decipher anything
of any message, mail or an official letter
At night, I sincerely touch

a postman’s original grief
I look around
the horrible mist, silhouette of trees, my shoes

I watch movement of clouds: on every bumpy
cloud I send
a butterfly to the Supervisor of the Posts


Second Flush in Danguajhar Tea Estate

In the middle of Danguajhar Tea Estate in northern Bengal,
I lie down with nothing in my head
or on my hand; there are no lines on my palms
I want to start all over again – like a tea garden in autumn

I sniff the crushed Dooars tea leaves and borrow the organic smell
of being grounded yet again
to grow the lines of head, fate, sun, life, and heart
and a local train passes through the closed tea garden

like a lump in my throat for being what I am not
I cup my hands before the large shade trees
The stillness after each passage fills my two palms
with unknown lines

like two-second flush cup of tea, complete and lingering,
as if, it is a second birth. I squat before the blades of grass, violet
grass flower and a water tanker with a leaking tap
and breathe my deepest in November


Ritual of Loss

You earn death bit by bit
like putting coins in a rusted piggybank or in a frog bank
or in a duck bank or in a post office

where every clerk is blind, even the postmen are blind
They roam the streets and let go the butterflies –
a nectar sucking insect,

to know if you still exist
when the people know that you have lost on an idea:
of distance, fear, and life

or stuck in the tenth line of a sonnet that had to be fourteen, but could not
because it was destined to be short
What is not deeply intended can never happen – like budgeting,

life, a bumper crop, love
or, for that matter, the ideal easiness
after this daily ritual of loss


Sekhar Banerjee  is a bilingual poet. He has four collections of poems and a monograph on an Indo-Nepal border tribe to his credit.

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