Ajanta Paul (Voices Within 2023)

Ajanta Paul is an academic from Kolkata, India who writes poetry, short stories and literary criticism. She is at present Principal, Women’s Christian College, Kolkata. Ajanta has been published in journals and anthologies including Spadina Literary Review, The Pangolin Review, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Setu Bilingual Journal, The Wild Word, Shot Glass Journal, Verse-Virtual, Poetic Sun, The Statesman, The Punch Magazine and The Pine Cone Review. She was nominated for the Pushcart in 2020.


The Impossible Light


The impossible light

is the untidy sun,

yellow like straw


striving to rise

in a corner of the child's copybook,

its crayon strokes


the golden spokes

of a celestial wheel

describing a desperate reel


in a sky damp and dark

like the tattered page, 

moist, dissolving beneath


his fingers, propelled by foreboding,

his heart overcast by fate's forecast

of stormy weather in affections' almanac


like the look in his parents' eyes

as they shut the house

and turned the key in the lock.


But somewhere in the backyard

amidst the ruinous roots of crumbling relationships

the old silk cotton tree blooms madly,


scattering the largesse of its smile

around the quiet compound 

like sheaves of corn on fields of blight. 



How ìs one's fate sealed?

Is it folded into an envelope,

its flap with gum congealed?

or decreed on parchment 

that is signed with a flourish

and reinforced with relish?


Or, is it guarded by molten lac

the quickly stiffening strips

impressed with the insignia

of the impresario out of reach, 

their immaculate seals

impossible to breach? 


Is it contained in a jar

with a cork at its mouth,

or, like an echo left to linger 

in an empty room, 

detained in a doom

that seems like forever?



Walls - bricks, cement, mortar,

trenches, partitions and barbed wire 

tearing relationships asunder, 


invisible borders on maps within, 

the no-man's-land between 

the seen and the unseen, 


materials of masonry that sing

out hollowly within a deserted fencing. 


They're the edges and boundaries 

of settled society, from ancient aggers

and mediaeval moats to futuristic frontiers.


Breeding ghettos 

of inhibiting ideologies, 

shrill falsettos that foster woes.


They're poetic ruins in lapsed languages 

with not a hint in their cryptic visages. 


Walls shield, they also yield

alienation, leaving untilled

an increasingly fragmented field,


till they fall back on themselves 

in solipsistic subversion 

of maps, memories and galaxies


in incendiary implosion. 


Constantinople, Wailing Wall, Jericho, 

Babylon, China, Kremlin, Berlin echo

with the receding strains of sorrow.


Power, strife, violence, suffering,

liminal landmarks in lacerating

landscapes that reverberate, whispering


the age-old melodies of parting,

of dreams departing, a closed wing.

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