Poem: Secrets

- Basudhara Roy

I stand

in the lusty heat
of the late winter sun,
damp hair awry,
skin-pores tongues
that reach in for nostalgia
licked clean each time
yet miraculously replenished.

The breeze whispers assurances
of advancing spring
to hair hibiscus-annointed
henna-dyed, dusted clean
of fenugreek ground, crushed,
kneaded, squeezed,
to impart legitimate riches
to neglected scalps, forgotten roots
untended tresses, care-worn edges.

Vermillion becomes you,
you whisper down my shoulders
as hungry comb-teeth deftly line
redness in the parting of my hair.
Those powdery transgressions
on the ridge of the nose
are assurances, they tell me, of
spousal love, of the wedded bliss I chose.

The flush of sun on sandal-washed skin
makes me heady. I have a picture
this way in the sun. A silhouette
from yester years framing untied curls
in a dark shadow on the floor
of a much-frequented courtyard.

The picture, in its accomplishment
might have been one of a movie star.
It looks like magic. My hair, I have been told,
is magic too. In the perpetual dampness that
sweats between its roots. Like musk.
Like the clumsy clandestine love-rush in dreams.

The silhouette I might show you one of these days.
The fragrance, however, I will keep from you.
Basudhara Roy is Assistant Professor in the Department of English, Karim City College, Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, India. Her poems have appeared in journals, magazines and newspapers like The Volcano, The Challenge, Cerebration, Das Literarisch, Reviews, Daath Voyage, Hans India, etc. Her first collection of poems Moon in My Teacup is due to be published by Writer’s Workshop, Kolkata, later this year.

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