Joy Goswami

(10 November 1954 - / Kolkata / India)

Poem From Another Land - Poem by Joy Goswami

By deeper water, upon greener rock, I had pitched my tent
And washed away with care the colour of my scream
Your bone and stone ornaments dried on wet rock
And Night would spread its blue-black skin upon the water
Then, it wasn’t in this land I lived!
The animal hides you gave me to wrap around my waist
I laid beneath my head to sleep on the island sand
In the distance a whale released water through its nose, in the early morning sun
One by one all the corals emerged from the sea -
One day a wandering Marco Polo anchored his ship
One day Columbus too -
Who was first, who second, can you remember? - And once
On his way back from his long desolate exile
Crusoe, Robinson; he spent a couple of hours with us
Dined with us on long fish roasted in fire
Not a single bone in them - “excellent” he remarked
in dense creeper-covered forest, I noticed
the way the early morning sun flashed - while speaking
with you from beneath his nutbrown beard there flashed
such a smile -
Then, it wasn’t in this land I lived!

Tonight why do I recall that tent upon a rock
Why do those bone and feather ornaments sparkle in the dark?
Here where the butterflies are lightless and the minerals damp as a cold
From sleeping bodies warm vapour rises constantly
If I try to wash the wound of my scream, then
From the water there will rise a crimson smoke!

But running will not help!
I will fetch the rocks and warm them
Warm them and whet them
Soon their inert tips
Will sharpen and glisten

And then
Do you remember one time in the dark how
A drunken bear pounced on you
And I with just such a sharp rock
Flattened him right there, in the sand?

[Translated from Bengali by Oindrila Mukherjee]

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Poem Submitted: Monday, March 19, 2012

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