Volume 4 Issue 2, June 2020
Special Issue for Indian Poetry

Naina Dey

Deaf

 

He said you are no good

You lack style

She said you are no good

You lack intellect

They said why do you write

What good is writing if you cannot impress

I sat and shivered

The air-conditioner romped about on icy legs

                    

My throat ached

Parched tongue tied

Haggard faces, pretty faces, plain faces

Marched by

Of women who wrote, who wanted to write

Faces I know or will never know

Faces that said, “any method is right, every method is right”.

I stared at Tagore

with flowing beard and placid eyes

bound in glass

Who hated school and wrote, ignoring jibes

Till he became a subject in universities

 

Can’t you hear you are no good? They said

This time loudly, wanting me to leave

They hadn’t realized I was deaf already.

 

 

 

 

 

The Birth of an Angel

 

The first feather was black

A seven-day wonder peeking out

Between shoulder blades hard as rhino horn.

I felt its soft down as it unfolded itself

A wee thing tickling my prickly back

As I lay on my side

A foetus in pain.

                             

More feathers followed

Brown and dun

The leafy branches jostled for a view

Outside the glass panes

Men in white stood around somber-faced

Watching my nakedness

As needles pushed more morphine.

 

The feathers grew paler, whiter

Sprouting from the now unnaturally elongated shoulder blades

The priests came

Each with a new sermon, a new god

That fell about me like tiny metal balls on tiled floor,

Sprinkling waters to purge the strange unholy spirit.

 

I got up on a cloudy day

And tottered, little knowing the use of wings

‘Angel’s wings! Angel’s wings!’

they screamed

'She has stolen angel’s wings!'

Then they dragged me to the edge

A deep sea raged below, with not a speck of land

They said, ‘Let us see you save the world’

And pushed me off the cliff.

They knew not the first feather was black still…

 

 

 

On Coronavirus 2020

 

“It is as if a gigantic wave is moving towards us”

– she said, trying to fix a leaking tap.

The curfew nodded in agreement.

 

 

 

Love during Covid-19

 

Let me imagine the end of the world

Monuments falling and you and me

Running running

Beautifully disheveled in denim

Past screaming people, cars crashing

Until we enter a blasted street

To steal a kiss

 

Let me imagine men and women

Gasping for breath

Ourselves bruised and shaken in the right proportion

An empty house

Hot bath, bed, wine and candles

For us only

Like in the films

 

As I stand a meter apart

Masked and gloved

I despair for the last pouch of milk

Thinking about next day’s meal

Fish or not

While you forage for you and yours

In the wilderness of social distancing

Love is for TV in good times

And fake apocalypses

 

 

 

 

 

The Door

 

It was the door

Left open

That reminded me of thugs and bats

And other unwanted visitors                                    

Making me get up

Leaving behind my book and specs

To do the necessary

To lock the door left ajar

To shut out the thugs and bats and the lost baby bird

The door groans as I tug at it

It is swollen with damp

Finally I manage to pull it shut

To draw the bar across

Between myself and the inky world beyond.

 

 

 

 

  

Fall during Playtime

 

 

On the grass upturned

I beheld the curve of the sky

I saw each blade

The purple flower, the worm, strap-sandalled feet

Each distinct

 

One great curve of a boat

Rocked by gentle billows

 

My knees ooze purple

On squashed filaments

Taking root

In the soil underneath

 

I lie

My head reclined

On the soft-cushioned grass

My ears hear cries

Muffled yet distinct

A blind roar

Rising and falling

 

The curve of the earth

Meeting the curve of the sky

Till I am a snowglobe

With a fuzzy head

 

 

About the poet

Dr. Naina Dey teaches at Maharaja Manindra Chandra College (University of Calcutta). She is a critic, translator and creative writer. Her books include Macbeth: Critical Essays, Edward the Second: Critical Studies, Real and Imagined Women: The Feminist Fiction of Virginia Woolf and Fay Weldon, Representations of Women in George Eliot’s Fiction, Macbeth: Exploring Genealogies, a book of poems Snapshots from Space and Other Poems and a translation of Upendrakishore Ray Chowdhury’s Gupi Gain O Bagha Bain. She was awarded the “Excellence in World Poetry Award, 2009” by the International Poets Academy, Chennai and twice won the Heart Bytes poetry contest organised by Sacred Hearts College, Kochi. She participated in “Writing Places Online, Spring 2018”, an online creative writing workshop organised by Writers’ Centre Norwich and three of her poems have been published in the Writing Places anthology.  
She has taught as a guest faculty for P.G. course in English at Bhairab Ganguly College (West Bengal State University), and has presented papers and participated in workshops in various universities. Presently she is also a guest lecturer in the P.G. Dept. of English, University of Calcutta. Her latest publication is One Dozen Stories, a volume of translations.

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Published by The Alternative.