Vol. 4 Issue 3
A page of a wet notebook is easily torn
like the mind
old aches lie scribbled on the leaves of the trees
uprooted by the cyclone
a cosmos of events rewind on them.
Each of us had a window
that opened to a tree.
Each of us had a little sunshine that brightened our days
like leaves after the rains.
When the branches of the fallen trees are cut
after storm to restore electric supply
the cries, the despairing cries
that we hear are ours
they are our pains that the trees had absorbed
with our exhalations.
Some of us still have their leaves preserved in old books.
*Amphan was a cyclone that hit West Bengal on 16th May 2020.
Yellow Long-Stalk Flowers
We should be glad we lived the moment—
the moment of your picking a long-stalk yellow flower
and clipping it on my longish brown hair. You said,
you wanted to collect all the yellow flowers that grow
on Tindharia slopes throughout your long sunburnt days
bring them to me on a soft silvery moonlit night
hold my hands till the rising lurid sun cleared your gray convex horizon.
It was such a limpid dance of words!
Thank heavens (if there is one)
I am no Mrs. Dalloway. I hate clinking glasses.
But in a sense we are all Clarissas
absurd perhaps in the eyes of our own Peters, organizing our grand parties
with words and thoughts and ideas
that eat and drink and dance and blather throughout our lives.
Our lives are like scratches on the surface
of our wet-soil minds made by wolves’ claws
scrapes on our bare skins when we stand unclothed dripping water
tiny points of ache forming on our old scars. We greet them
like old friends, look for them in the throng of concealed memories.
The autumn leaves fall outside my window.
Ravens caw. The yellow flowers are dead, my hair white.
We should be glad we lived that yellow- wild -flower moment
when the hills lit up in amber Diwali.
The Trees Are Buddhas
The trees are Buddhas.
They stand rapt in intense
meditation together and make forests.
When the melancholic winds break against their firm feet
they preach peace.
They shed their memories
like autumnal leaves.
Born on the moist earth
The trees bloom fragrant flowers
like love. Greener leaves sprout like sutras in spring
to whisper truths.
The seasons dance their melodies on tree branches
adorn them with new leaves, new fruits
then strip them away
the trees live the furrowed barks
and yellowed leaves. Ripe seedy fruits fall on the earth
each seed is wooed to grow a tree. Spring arrives
to fulfill them. The trees grow old secretly after every spring
they draw coded rings deep inside their trunks
and wither away.
We die many times in our lifetime like the trees,
are renewed with every spring
that comes our way and after a season of fruits’ and flowers’ burden
carrying our own floral memories
The gust rolls the fallen leaves
across the forest floor.
Bamboo flutes make some painful music.
The tall green trees quietly embrace the seasons
we are all undeciphered rings in the end.
Thamma asked me to pinch up her sorrows
like red ants from the bark of her tree
they climb her long brown arms
one by one from the imprisoned nights
when saltwater overflows her pores
and the rain disorients the shape of the girl
who floats trapped in a form
in her dreams she has kept her young.
I reach out across many ages to touch her hands
her dry skin peels off
a strong cinnamon smell in my fingers
memories of spices waft through the air
like flipped pages of her recipe books
basmati rice, ghee, saffron, cardamom,
milk and honey drip from their dog eared edge.
I warm a glass of clove water, vapours collect on my glasses
white clouds form around the distant cold moon
my fingers take in the warmth
adamantly repeating the cinnamon smell.
About the Poet
Zinia Mitra teaches English in the University of North Bengal. Her travelogues and articles have been published in The Statesman. Her poems have been published in National and International journals including Muse India, Ruminations, Contemporary Literary Review, Kavya Bharati, East Lit. Indian Literature (Sahitya Akademi), Asian Signature, Teesta Review, Setu.
Her translations have been published in books and journals including Indian Literature (Sahitya Akademi). Her translation of Abanindranath Tagore’s Khirer Putul has been published by Parabaaas. Her translation of “Jatiner Juto” by Sukumar Ray as ‘Jatin and his Sandals’ is included in ICSE text book, A Magic Place. Her books include Indian Poetry in English: Critical Essays, Poetry of Jayanta Mahapatra: Imagery and Experiential Identity, Twentieth Century British Literature: Reconstructing Literary Sensibility (co-edited), Interact (co-edited) and The Concept of Motherhood in India: Myths, Theories and Realities. She is on the editorial board of Teesta Review.