Jan/Feb 2010 Poetry

Two Poems

by Nitoo Das

Creation of the Birds

Ekphrasis IX:
for Remedio Varo

Close your eyes, owl woman.
You don't need to see
to break night, starlight
into birds.

Refract them into beaks,
wings, crests, tails. Birth them
prismatically, mother owl.
Who wants eggs, nests, mates?

Ask an upside down
metal ant to filter air into
blueyellowred. Quicken in them

a hopping,
grain-searching, flying-
fluttering, head-
cocking yearning.
Much like yours, owl
woman of the frail feet.
Much like yours.

Your calm, shut-eyed yearning
to know the air, the stars, the dark.

Wire them
with your guitar heart.
Let them hear the thrum
throb strum string of your blood.



My body is a story
of smells.

I was a girl then
and did not know what it was
to smell otherwise.

Born of Adrika, the fish-woman,
loved by a fisherman father,
I only knew fish. Silver, black,
orange arrowing,
panting fish. I loved them
and smelt
like them.

Matsyagandha. I was

And Parashar smelt me
and lusted after me and called me

But Parashar, I work and you don't.

You roam and think
and have the consolation of leisure.
I row and sweat and fish with my father.
I work. You don't.

I am your fate, your secret.
You hate me and covet me
and have to grant me
boons of perfume.

Now I smell like jasmines for miles around me.
Men sniff and rise
sniff and die
around me.

This fake skin smell never washes away now.
I pace alone in palaces now
and remember my fish smell, my name.

All women smell like me.
I am Satyavati and I know
the truth now.


Previous Piece Next Piece