Basudhara Roy: Poetry (Voices Within 2021)

Basudhara Roy teaches English at Karim City College, Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, India. As a poet and reviewer, her work is featured/upcoming in anthologies and magazines like The Helter Skelter Anthology of New Writing in English, The Aleph Review, The Kali Project, The Poetry Society of India, Mad in Asia Pacific, Teesta Review, Borderless, Muse India, Shabdadguchha, Cerebration, Rupkatha, Triveni, and Setu among others. Her first collection of poems Moon in My Teacup appeared from Writer’s Workshop in 2019, and her second collection, Stitching a Home, is forthcoming this year.

The last time you spoke of ice,
I was knitting a shawl, beside
me a couple of scented promises
freshly lit, while in the kitchen,
the stew gurgled merrily for
dinner. Handing you a steaming
mug of coffee, I smiled. Sun-born,
heat-bred, what would I know of
ice, I said, except on the doorstep,
an excess of white? For a moment,
your eyes turned dark mirrors, your
mouth a sentinel of the night as you
tried to tell me of shadows’ braille
on fading light. But there was the
stew to taste and memory to be
refurbished from packed boxes
after which you quickly left. I
know ice now, the years having
taught me to shovel my way
through its heart. In my tropical
bosom, they have dug a resolute
place for it through spring and
summer so the next time you come,
this land, too, shall be home.


To feed your desperate hunger,
I reach within for rough handfuls
of my soul, offering words plentiful
like rushing grains of rice, tirelessly

accompanied by the fortitudinous
salt hills of my thought only to
realize that these will hardly suffice
tonight. You need somehow my

whole dark being, rude and raw as
you quietly gnaw flesh from bone,
every word of yours, a stone flung
in the eye. I try to break away,

claim freedom. You only shrug,
sure that I won’t know how to live
without a prison to wall me in. I
leave only to come back, certain

that death alone can break between
us this ruthless rhythm, this circadian
circle wherein you proprietorially
ask; I, forever grudgingly, give.

On an unfamiliar path
I pause amid ruins,
gather fallen leaves.
When clouds amass,
I make my way home
fervently hoping the

rains may come before
I reach. I have, all day,
been out in the open today,

talking to the wind nesting
in the clavicle of trees, the
hours clinging on to me,

resolute like lovegrass.
I have hoarded moments
in the heart’s piggy-bank
like loose change. I don’t
know, as yet, what they
are worth, for in all I do,
my pleasure only comes 
at my long day’s end,
from recounting it to you.

An age seems to
have passed
between yesterday
and today - terse,
definite, irrevocable
in its silence.
At my feet sleeps
a skin of my
former self,
an elegiac ecdysis
of pain. Was I
changed in a dream
or did I wake up
inhabited or could
I have been
dispossessed again?

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