Garden of Tastes: Dhee Sankar

Dhee Sankar

What a pretty green house!

Fresh-hued, just like you

But inside, it’s all red. Sombre

Dark red and black, and on the walls

Mirrors as large as your heart.

 

You came here to taste each other.

My dazed gaze roves from table to table

Imagining you in each of them.

Which seats have you sat in, what did

You talk about, for so long, so many

Years, so many hours? —No, let it be.

Could he make you laugh much better

Than I? But he also made you less you.

A smiling face, and a downcast face —

That’s all I see, on every table.

Both faces are yours. 

 

When the food arrives, I sit stunned, stung

By all the tastes you had between you:

Spicy desire, tangy tension, sour politics,

The snazzy lovers’ miff of Seven-Up.

How hot exactly did they make the food?

Soft mushrooms melt inside the mouth.

He tasted you here. You wanted to melt

Into him back then. His ambitions, his life.

It was such a long time ago.

What history is there between you?

 

Even with all the air-conditioning

I get lost in the endless ruins of taste

Like a sweat-drenched archaeologist.

 

I have only ordered two dishes.

They make so many dishes here, so many,

So many tastes, veg, non-veg, prawn, paneer,

Korma, rogan josh, reshmi kabab,

Tikka, keema, jhalfrezie…

 

All of these tastes are yours.

Your eyes, lips, palms, fingers, feet

Your shoulders, nape of the neck,

Small of the back, nostrils, ears, tears,

Hips, thighs, arms, breasts.

Your words, your voice.

What history am I writing?

 

I pay the bill, and get sweet fennel seeds.

Out on the street, burning

Red with humiliation.

Was the blood in his veins and yours

Even sweeter back then?

***


Bio: Dhee Sankar is a doctoral student of English literature at Presidency University, Kolkata, India. He writes poetry in English as well as in Bengali. His debut collection of Bengali poems, Ushor Pandulipi, was published by the prestigious Patra Bharati in 2022. His English poetry and short stories have appeared in Muse India, Harbinger Asylum, Grand Little Things, Samyukta Fiction, and the Poetry and Covid archive by the government of UK, among others.


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