Amit Chaudhuri

(1962 - / Calcutta / India)

Going For A Drive - Poem by Amit Chaudhuri

The watchman waves. The garage door
stutters open. It’s dark inside, dark. Grope for a switch.
‘Where are you going?’ We’re going somewhere not dark,
somewhere clear and sunlit,
where the frank wind touches our faces. The watchman
brushes open the gate by habit.
Leaves—wrinkled, yellow tongues—pastiche
the driveway by habit. When you turn the key, the car
throbs, and there’s a sharp, bitter aura of petrol.
Then light a cigarette. A point glows
like an ache for the past. When was I last with you in this car,

in this closed space?
Outside, wind and dust glaze the windows. Young, I loved
that smell
of fuel washing the car-intestine, its suddenness,
vits spontaneous personality.
I grew intimate with its bitter exactness. In every derelict
service station, or among ruined despondent engines,
or bleary pools in dumps
with rainbows
in their eyes,
I inspired that fragrance. It was everywhere, it was

a wise spirit, a timeless,
unromantic, amor mundi spirit,
haunting the dark cogs and the pistons
like despair, or love,
or one of those emotions I wouldn’t experience with clarity
until long after,
and not even then.

[From St Cyril Road and other poems]

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Poem Submitted: Saturday, June 16, 2012

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