Aruni Kashyap

(9 June 1984 - / Guwahati / India)

Journeys - Poem by Aruni Kashyap

Trees moved along, clouds too
with the moon, the about-to-drown orange-sun
in sooty hours, slow;
they boiled down to a single feeling:

and I saw markets, old and new
where they sold, the same things—
Flesh of goats, cows, pigs,
hens or roosters,
and women

(they wore red, like lipstick
they wore clothes that failed functions
like hides, hung
over bones and clotheslines).

Nothing has changed
like red silk-cotton flowers
on green grass,
they remained
motionless, dead
yet striking
with repugnance,
not beauty.

Sometimes, I saw guns too
and brooms, that cleaned blood
like milk spilled by a cow’s hind-legs-kick
from the milk-maid’s knee-hold.

The same street, and people
and blood, guns, flesh traded
for money
It all remained the same
like a blood red morning sun
with the newspaper, red
roasted flesh
they still drink tea, brownish red

Once I saw a river too:
legends flowed on its simmering leaves
carried, with soil and life.
I sat on its bank
and listened.

When they ended, I found myself
on its bank: not in a time beyond
when people were afraid to cross it wearing
gold bracelets, silver toe-rings—
In case, a stormy wave swallowed them
a wild wailing wind from the untamed forests
hit them hard, pushed them into the river.

I felt I was going back.
Just felt.
And I found myself, amidst the river winds,
and legends that its white sands reeked
like rotting fish, jasmines, cow dung,
and rain.

Maybe this road, this journey
tree-crowded, cloud-shaded,
would also end in the same despair
And I would wait, stranded amidst smells
of fish, jasmine, cow-dung.
Though I was moving forward,
continually, I felt
as if I was going back.

Don’t know where—
but I knew I would end up
where I started
so I went on.

Flesh, fragrance, jasmine
fish, cow-dung, women
and then the red colour
sometimes sun, sometimes silk-cotton flowers
or the blood which I mistook
for flowers.

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, June 13, 2012

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