Poetry: Chaitali Sengupta

Chaitali Sengupta

1. Death, the new squatter

The long shriek of the ambulance
tears through the blood-soaked night,
hollering the language of the dead;

a city gasps for breath,
tearing at seams, 
it has a new squatter 
on it’s abandoned streets. Death is his name.

Masked, he runs hunting down his preys,
in millions, smacking them 
like buzzing flies, dwarfing down their egos. 

Writhing his hands, he eyes the nooks and crannies, 
his ears giving a miss to the lamenting cries. 

Feasting on our loved ones,
taking their souls
in accelerating rhythm,
he breathes in their helpless vapor,
now consumed. 

Sitting at the hilltop,
like a carrion crow,
he watches his deceased preys,
prostrate, clumped together, on bright pyres, 
with last tears pooling on their dead eyes,
and their souls, dissolved in smoke. 

He watches on,
as the milky river surges furiously
crammed with bloated bodies
in the murky depths of her water. 
Water- their tomb, unifies them, 
above their caste and creed. 

Wiping his mouth, with a flouting grin,
and a full throated laughter, Death hums into the air, 
and we wait,short of breath, 
with our cold lungs,
in the darkened deserts
of the extinguished souls,
watching Time count its beads.

2. Yet apart
Under the rain,
    rimming over a monsoon-swelled river, 
the brooding bridge stands,
like a solitary heartbeat stopped,
saluting the aggressive river. 
     She in her stride,
Froths and teases his curled-up cracks,
     built to span her springing tide.

The bridge is a waiting, a muffled sob.
The river, a noise, forging forward.

The bridge stands, poised, wordless,
its roots steadfast, like an old lover
poised over the tidal crests of the river.
One and yet apart.

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