Lines Addressed To Her Non-Resident Presence Poem by Ramakanta Rath

Lines Addressed To Her Non-Resident Presence

I had thought
I had forgotten you entirely.

And then, one day, I quarreled
with everyone—with wife, children,
with Government and God.
Before the quarrel ended, I walked away,
and stood near the window.
Outside the window
A moonlit fog extended
till the world's end.

You were there, draped in
Clothes made of the trees and the shrubs
on the river's banks.
A smile glimmered
on you melancholy skin.
In your eyes there was
a rain-wet paddy field that never ended.
Your uncombed hair fluttered in the wind
like leaves of sugarcane.
Your mouth, half-open and half-shut,
stood where all dialogue terminates.
Your legs rose from the dark depths of dreams.
Your body shook, and every single letter of your name
was written in the indelible ink of time past.

I knew you would leave soon.
How could you stay
Unless the time for staying came?
Wherever you go, a hand raised above shoulders
can touch the stars.
The steamer arrives every morning
to say good morning to women
who hold entire rivers in their eyes.
The earth and the outer space are one.
The eyes of eyes and the ears of ears
walk about in shaded coconut groves,
and gods and goddesses stand at your doorsteps
yearning for morsels of benediction
flowing from your meditation on yourself.

After your leave, what remains?
bare rocks, the moonlight's darkness
erasing all future,
several blood-stained years, dead soldiers
guarding unused gunpowder on the sea-bed,
and the desolate road I must walk on
till the last day of my life.

Go, then, with so few days left to me,
a change in my condition can no longer be
the subject-matter of hope.
I now have fever almost everyday,
nerves from the waist to the heels ache,
and, if I rise up without proper precaution,
I feel I am descending into some bottomless depth.
The skin is loose and dry, the weight
has fallen, maybe someday now
my breath will stop somewhere inside the lungs.
I would have notified all this to you,
but then, didn't you and I discover long ago
that news of this kind was utterly useless
both for you and for me?

[Translated by the poet]

Diptimayee 23 March 2018

Sriradha 58 is really excellent

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Ramakanta Rath

Ramakanta Rath

Cuttack, Orissa / India
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