In My Bony Hands - Poem by Hayat Saif
How much can these swollen veined
Bony quivering hands contain
When I am bedeviled by the scorched gray
of an impersonal ominous landscape all around?
And yet I can scale far above this accursed scene
As I glide through memory towards the remotest past
Towards my endeared nostalgic village
Towards its far fields, its intoxicant
smell of mango blossoms
Its springs, its boundless riches of the sun
Its sunbathed view as in Van Gogh
Embedded in the sprouting seed of life,
Buried in the soft silt ages ago, as it were
Like a talisman by a dervish.
Why now do the graceless massive thighs of city streets
Rake up the agony of fading youth,
The sobbing of decaying love, the pangs of old age,
The wounds of my head fill up
With the poison of stinky worms and maggots
With putrid gonorrheal ooze
Alas! Still the blood throbs with the cadence
Of the time-old Charjapada verses!
In the cantos—twelve poets
Long lost unseen, forgotten in an immeasurable play of
Light and shade?
All boyhood passed in bushes and bowers
In reckless abandon of naughty fun,
Even today I can hear the call
Of hedge crickets, the conversation of rejoicing frogs
Why did I leave the smell of soil behind
In quest of knowledge, the much desired
Tree of Wisdom, everything now sounds
Like disjointed snatches of dialogues
With no glow whatever of meaning.
Only till today the moon gets eclipsed
By the heart-rending cry
of Raham Ali from a nearby village.
The homestead of Maharam Mridha
Vanished in the upsurge of the Meghna
Near Mendipur, the family that was
High and mighty for five generations!
The dream of the past happiness
Cast a spell on me.
How I was enamoured in youth
By the serpentine rhythm of
Mariam Bibi clad in a striped sari.
Of a femme fatale like a black darash snake!
Every trace of all the remembrances
Float and fade away
in the dim twilight of memory
How much can I hold
In my swollen-veined bony shaking hands?
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