Summer Nights, 2006

Jayanta Mahapatra

These are more like doors
that open with a strange slowness;
they turn outward like my palms,
shadows spread out on night’s walls.

The uprooted mango tree in our yard
is never in doubt
my love is returned.
It doesn’t evade the passing bird;
but today I will speak to no one.

The jasmines on the night
quarry for my life
between their thighs,
the timid hares pass me by
in their slender hymn.

Here, hidden beneath every gesture
the mirror divulges, my history is for ever
moving around the house; the sagging, worm-eaten
door I try to push shut behind me
simply makes it appear so large.

Yet there is little of it.
In the dove’s dead body
I found early this morning;
history is a mere thought;
played out for our feelings,
keeping its severity, promising nothing.

Out of the loneliness of earth
a bird swoops past
with little to believe in,
and I’ve learnt to watch
those doors wander, disappear,
their small shadows of pain and madness
dancing on the edge of light.

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