Poetry: Bina Sarkar Ellias

Bina Sarkar Ellias is poet, founder, editor, designer and publisher of International Gallerie, an award-winning publication since 1997. Besides, she is a fiction writer and art curator. Her books of poems include The Room, Fuse (which has been taught at the Towson University USA), When Seeing Is Believing, Cercana Lejania / Closer Farness and Song of a Rebel. Her poems have been translated into French, Spanish, Greek Chinese, Arabic and Urdu. She received a Fellowship from the Asia Leadership Fellow Program 2007, the Times Group Yami Women Achievers’ award, 2008, and the FICCI/FLO 2013 award for excellence in her work.

(Five short poems OR one option long poem!)
1.
When Did I Become
Your Footstep?

when did i become
your footstep?

it was years before
when the canvas
was clean, except
for a few untidy scrawls
of a childhood tangled
in the winds of change
fraught by uneven
circumstances
that I swallowed
like the morning glass
of milk prescribed
for healthy bones~
and emerged in fine fettle
with a robust mind
that nevertheless
was splintered
here and there
by the ragged edges
of reality. yet––
somewhere, some gospels
had sunk in.
somewhere the bell
of reason had rung––
summoning truth
that began to grow
and edify
like a tree of life
nurtured
within the locus
of one’s hidden being
watered by Rumi
and Khayyam
and contemplating clouds
raining words––

words... when, did I become
your footstep?
***


2.
Mother Tongue

it flowed
from her womb
the river of words
that became
mine, faithful~
following me
to be loved
to be caressed
in articulations;
to be read
in random forays
to be comfort
in a sense
of belonging
to be inscribed
on the map
of my spring years.

it slipped then
through the cracks
lost on the highway
of a life lived
in layers of wanderings.
the alphabets
that had shaped
my childhood
became strangers
the lilt of the language
became alien
the lexicon
a forgotten forest
syllables mere murmurs
of distant seas
on the map
of my summer years.

it flowed back again
with the late tide
to claim
its bank of memories.
it flowed back again
with the music
of its cadence
echoing in corridors
where they had
once nestled.
and I dust away
the fugitive years
and shine the light
of a lost language
on the map
of my autumn years.

sweet is the sound
of a mother tongue.
***


3.
Where is Your Home?

where
is your home
my friend?

in the 
penumbra
of night

or in the 
caves of lost 
dreams 

in the
bazaars of
transactions

or in the
silence of
a monastery

in the
fiction of 
halogen lights

or in the
narratives of 
untold stories?
***


4.
That Day of Prayer

it was that day
when a prayer
came astride
the dark horse
of a despot 
with fangs of venom.
the wind scurried 
in all directions 
like one gone mad
as it swept
his rhetoric 
across oceans
into masses 
listening with 
sore ears;
a Trumpet blowing
a Bannon prayer 
into a nuclear bomb
that will explode 
in the fields 
of compassion;
in the heart 
of humanity
to expunge the voice 
of peace.

raging now
as the day draws near
for his exit
he fuels a storm
the world is agape
the world hangs…

a prayer hangs 
in the air, floating 
amidst conspiracies.
the world waits.
***


5.
That Night

that night
the universe swam
inside her
as she swirled
with the 
autumn leaves
and all else
was still.
the forest
was a theatre
and the ancient
trees witness
to a dream.
the moon watched, 
in opiated silence
her slow dance
with autumn leaves
till she sank
to earth, drunk
with the notion
of transience.
and the ocean
churned,
knowing she had
sinned.
she had stolen
stars for her
eyes.
she had stolen
the liminal.
***


(OPTION POEM)
Let us go...
After TS Eliot’s ‘The Love Song of Alfred Prufrock’

let us go then, you and I 
through lockdown streets beneath the sky
with tired minds and weary sighs
find staring strays with hollow eyes 
and a lost wind at moonrise.
while it crawls in when we are least aware
here and there and everywhere
a conquering Covid in our lair
and a question hanging in the air
let’s pluck it and let us dare.
oh, do ask, “What is it?”
let us unpeel and resist. 

in the room the leaders come and go
talking of Machiavellian politico. 

and while the grey light leans upon the window pane
the clouds gather in the sky and shower rain
washing roofs and sinful stains
and the weary migrant workers’ pain
sweeping through gutters and green fields 
cleaning wounds while it healed
the souls of those who cannot cry
when their loved ones resign and die. 

and indeed there will be a day
when the grey light will show us the way
sliding down our city street
it will prepare us to meet
the monsters who stalk our lives 
from the chambers of political hives 
there will be time to kindle interest 
to stand up, go out and protest
and while the virus weaves its way
and conspiracy theories steal our day 
we shall bells of promise ring 
we shall laugh and we shall sing. 

in the fields the leaders come and go
seeds of hate and divides they sow. 

and indeed there will be a day
when I shall want to lose my way
in the wilderness of life’s sorrows
in the uncertainty of tomorrows 
(they will say: “how her mind is losing it!”)
how she’s shrinking bit by bit
there are dark clouds in her eyes 
there’s a tremor on the rise
will she curse? will she curse?
challenge the silent universe?
will she hold the virus at bay
or will she call it a day? 

for i have known the treacheries 
have known life’s vagaries 
i’ve measured out my hours with searching thoughts
to mitigate the fears that have brought
the world to a prolonged pause 
so what should i presume’s the cause? 

and i have held the prism to my mind—
the mind that constructs and deconstructs
and when the world is nailed to a fear
do i shut my ears so i do not hear
the viral drumbeats in the media
do i presume it’s schizophrenia?
do I take the path that’s linear? 

and i have seen the lovers’ despair
as they cannot breathe the fragrant air
of a sweet romance by sand and sea 
for the lockdown doors have no key
now they meet on a digital space
share imagined kisses and virtual embrace.
and should i then assume?
for the surreal there is infinite room? 

should i then assume that migrant labourers are not doomed?
that the daily wage earner is only consumed
by a drama that is a mere interval? 

perhaps i’m just hallucinating 
perhaps my sanity is retreating. 

and the hours of day glide in a trance
as don quixote waves his lance
and tired hutments turn to castles
and hungry eyes begin to dazzle
should i after a sumptuous meal
a wretched guilt in my guts feel?
but though i rant and though i swear
this demonic virus steals the air
it conquers gullies, raids the poor
it assaults the rich and furthermore
it has taught us not to discriminate 
and in short, not to hate. 

and it isn’t worth it, after all
we are insignificant, we are too small
an atom in the universe
why do we then curse 
amidst our desperate need 
and insatiable greed
there is one question that i seed
so readers, please pay heed—
when this earth is fractured so
why, why do we wound it more?
we shall leave then a legacy
of ruins for this century;
and that’s not all. that’s not all. 

and would that not be all, let’s stall
the pandemic on its Corona crawl
after the closed doors’ meetings
after the misgoverned beatings
the cruel getting more cruel—
the tricksters adding more fuel—
to wear or not to wear a mask
that is the question we continue to ask
wouldn’t it have been worthwhile 
to follow Ardern and Tsai? 
and all the wise women who did not hesitate 
to battle Covid before it’s too late. 

no, I’m not Prince Eliot, nor was meant to be;
am a slave to words and dreams that come to me
am a stalker of the skies and wind and sea
living life on the edge of serenity
and on the edge of fractured sanity
with thousands bruised by lockdown calamities. 
full of emptiness and hollow echoes
that resonate their relentless woes—
almost, like lost shadows. 

i grow bold ... i grow bold ...
i denounce the leaders’ whose souls are sold. 

shall i stir up some parodies? do I dare to sing a protest song?
I shall wear my mask and march along
i have heard the rebels singing passionately 

they’re in prison, will they be set free? 

i have seen them restless in the prison cells
locked in for ringing truth bells
for the liars are afraid of naked truth
for all they want is to be uncouth
one day, one day their arrogance will perish
for that day this life i shall cherish. 

let us go… let us go…
seeds of peace let us sow. 
***

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