By Susmita Paul
The T.V. Remote
Across the bits, a little bit of me suspends from the acrimonies of pleasure. Fingers editing lives, tenacious fingers now drooping over the bytes and morsels. Changing the underlying codes, bedspread changed each weekend douses the flames of desire no longer eclipsed by the gates
I had held onto the beams in the starless nights, beams shining, plagiarised by pain, force their way into the dorms now lit only in the corners. Beyond the horizons, in the belly of solidarity I lay, watching bandanas and handful of plastic flowers and disinfected wishes thrown down balconies
Branching into trees.
I have the keys to the gentle private rooms where I watch them cry, jostle for life, paint and play silly cooking games. For years now, I have watched them grow, from puberty to adulthood, I know them even though they know me not. Bastions fall and I cry with them shuddering at thoughts of morgues,
Of people lying alone.
I look up. Surrounding me is the same quiet. My hands drabble past the keys, into the sockets and pulls the plug, waiting for another matrix to load.
a migrant worker walking home
dripping drops dangle at the forehead
that has now the lines of empty stomachs carved in stone
one that he is carrying now, one that his toddler will have and will bloat till the dreams burst
one that his old, widowed mother has carried for generations before his birth
one that his young wife will trample upon
how many ways do you cry out soundless
how many passages will you fill with shrieks of pain that occur
six thousand four hundred and twenty-six kilometres away
how many cycles must the star die before its birth is no longer a shame
all the while
as we talk
he has walked a hundred and fifty-six kilometres since the last time he sat down.
with a chair dangling under his nose,
his bones bleed for they know not how to fold at the joints
he walks away.
emptiness returns no more.
Susmita Paul is an emerging writer in English and Bengali. She is an independent researcher and a Zentangle-inspired artist. She is mother to a six year old. She curates poetry and art at The Pine Cone Review.
I am writing from Graz, Austria. I am an Indian, a privileged Indian at that. During the initial lockdown phase, innumerable workers in India walked hundreds of miles back to their home. Some inevitably died in the process. I sat in my blessed home in Graz and my mind bled to concussion. The fates of the unnamed individuals haunted me day and night. I could barely function as a human being in those days. These poems were written in that frenzied state of mind.