Poetry: Ajanta Paul

Ajanta Paul
Fertile grief

I did not cry
When my father died.

The tears would prove useful later, 
I decided, to water the deeds

Planted in his memory
As we overcome suffering

Through struggle,
According to his teaching.


Those bright flowers,
sun washed, rain tossed
have sprung from my grief
buried six feet below
who says sorrow
is barren, or not beautiful?


Forage amidst the stubble 
of roots and stalks 
of old words in fallow fields
where poems yet bloom
in the barren heath.

Dig below the earth
Of the subconscious hearth
For tuber treasures of thought
Growing in the warm embrace
Of rejuvenating synapses.

Search amongst nettles,
Briars and brambles, shorn
Of hope, yet seething with fruition,
In this wilderness of wants
Where paradox haunts. 


I grew up in a thicket
with other saplings, 
warmed and drenched 
according to the season's whims,
danced in the breeze 
with my lissom siblings, 
slept under a gorgeous moon,
pulling her silver stole 
up to our snuggling chins.

Serene it was, and graceful, too.
Who was to know what was due
to happen in a year or two?
Tall and strapping, we were 
cut down in our prime 
and sent to a timber store
where we were fashioned into 
bamboo poles, and stacked together.

I had no idea how hard I was,
or what obduracy was packed
in my unknowing young sinews,
till that night of the fateful riot
when I was used to split
the skulls of innocent strangers,
shatter the dreams of teenagers,
and drive a wedge into togetherness. 

I had no idea how strong I was.
Strong enough to break others, 
strong enough to remain whole 
while my heart lay in tatters.
So strong that I wept to discover
the power that was in me.
Bred as I had been, in harmony,
I couldn't come to terms with my identity. 

Bio: Dr Ajanta Paul is a poet, short story writer and literary critic who is currently the Principal of Women’s Christian College, Kolkata. A Pushcart nominee, Ajanta has published in literary journals including Verse-Virtual, Setu, The Wild Word, Offcourse, Kavya Bharati, The Statesman and The Atticus Review. Her publications include The Elixir Maker and Other Stories, American Poetry: Colonial to Contemporary, From the Singing Bowl of the Soul: Fifty Poems, Beached Driftwood: Poems and Earth Elegies.

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