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

Anjana Basu

 

Inheritance

a house torn into ten 
 into fragments  
to be shredded, fought over and quietly conveyed away 
bit by bit
to names on no family tree
(the god's name down as the only successor, divinely legitimate but ignored)
my gambling grandfather's whim over successive rolls of dice
printing ink in the veins that skipped three generations
a shriek of parrots in a mourning wake 
over the elephant stalls that used to be 
and the stables of horses being erased into no man's land
a confluence of gods my birth house 
hard by the river and its holy water but no home of mine 
to be picked through among the fritter of marble
for stray pearls, even those of wisdom
(god hides his face in his designated corner, inviolable)
no legacy except that unclaimed printers ink running fresh through my veins
welling through the subterranean
spewed onto sheet after sheet
to be left on library shelves and through the bookworm's cast
(in the beginning was the word and the word was of god)
for the rest i answer to the wind

 

Marigolds


                         1
the coals of summer burning embers that glow only in the light of day not lighting the darkness with their warmth or your heart that needs coals to stir it into some affection these coals garland many on their journeys through or round the fire commonest of all gold, all ruffle petalled flowers the marigold burns in the heat of summer but are winter's small balls of sunshine a distant promise whispered of a warmth that never glows 

                         2
a halo of ash underneath the embers smoulder
and catch the morning sun yellower than the beams
more like marigolds than the ends of coal
a memory of garlands strung from the ashes of the fire
the pyre of love
life's cigarette has been smoked out the ashes remain
of a loop of marigolds around a careless neck
and the heart's embers burning till the end

                        3

a cool wind blows over the marigold saris and stiff folds of fabric, the  small petalled sunlight distilled in garlands a day for love  strung on the seven strings of wisdom that no one wants to play instead the yellows stalk and circle in a parade heat rising though the wind blows soft and cool
 

Ichneumon

ichneumon the creature with an i
that outstares the basilisk
tracker of stone 
impervious to the fever fire or
plague or poison
a gaze that can transfix the dragon's crown
in a game of statues 
but in a lexicon transferred
ich i  neumon pneumonia
the I holds still
while sweat runs down the forehead
and breaths come slow
words are fractals
so is life and death

 

Cloud Meeting 

I wouldn’t share a passing cloud with my wife let alone you.
floating in the middle of clouds the plane rocks - what lies beneath air holding up a dream 
am i then a cloud do i float by as the moment rocks what will you tell your wife at the journey’s end i met a cloud - no not even that clouds are private unshared spells of enchantment time floats if on a sea voyage there is ground somewhere beneath here what lies beneath? a moment of me time? a heart to heart will you tell your wife you fell in love with a cloud? this is uneasy ground 30000 feet above cloud control. the atmosphere tense. somewhere below my husband waits  

 

 

About the poet

Born in Allahabad, schooled for a time in the UK, Anjana Basu has to date published 9 novels and 2 books of poetry, The Chess Players and Other Poems from Writers Workshop and Picture Poems and Word Seasons from Authorpress. Her first poem was chosen for the Illustrated Weekly by the then Poetry Editor Kamala Das. Her poems have appeared in an  anthology brought out by Penguin India. Since then she has featured in Kunapipi, The Blue Moon Review, The Phoenix Review, The Ginosco Review, The Salzburg Review, Prosopisia and Indian Literature, to name a few. Most recently she was published in Muse, an anthology of NE poets,

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Published by The Alternative.