Jul/Aug 2017 Spotlight

Three Poems

by Urvashi Bahuguna

Image courtesy of the British Library Photostream


Carrick-A-Rede, Ireland

Only four people at a time on the rope bridge.
Each life rocking the other gently. The stomach

is a swing: attuned to this movement, singing
with it. The Atlantic is visible under the feet

bluer than anyone remembers. On the other
side, the promise waits. A notebook opened

small & fallen flowers collected drying demurely
inside. En route, a Kinavarra pony shades its

young by standing over it: an unusually warm
Irish summer. The gulls skimming the waves

to cool off. Stepping off the bridge, the grass
is grasped at for support. I sit far from the

edge, thinking of Jorie Graham saying joy
is the lifting of hunger. A woman in the distance

waves. Who, me? I step away from the cliffs.
Two girls ask if I will photograph them & I ask

back: in the photo, I look small & full of wonder.
A pinecone tightly wound into itself. Walking back

to the tour bus, I breathe so loudly a silver-haired
couple stops to check on me. At final gulp, the

Atlantic is wide as a puffin's caw caw caw.


In praise of drool

The New Year Eve's I slept on the floor I knew
one of us had to leave. It took another seventeen

months because there is no manual on how to resist
a man who steps off a moving train, who circles

a roundabout at a hundred and twenty kilometres
per hour, who says he will change in the morning.

I climbed back into bed before he woke up, afraid
to admit how little I could bear the rise & fall of

his chest on the sheets. I chomped on a chilli and
smiled. Told everyone, Look how green, I grew it

in my garden. Next to you I sleep like a child at
sundown. My mouth leaves a trail of moon drool,

tooth whisked, quiet as sugar melting off the tongue.



meets girl, girl orders the right
dish in a restaurant. Boy thinks
he never has to order for himself

Girl doesn't get on the aeroplane,
Boy doesn't understand, won't hug
her back. Girl slips into his pocket
her mornings where she will wake in time
for him to hear her voice before his
day ends.

Boy comes home in the holidays, Girl grows
her hair out, Boy doesn't recognise the
inches, struggles with the idea
that she might be prettier than before.

Boy doesn't know the new places in
town, Girl takes him for tea here,
cake there, wine somewhere else.
Boy is tired, their city is shifting
in his head. Boy
doesn't say any of this

only asks time and again
that she quit smoking. Girl kisses
some other boy. Girl wishes
it was Boy. She doesn't tell him
any of this, only gets angry that
he doesn't call more often. Boy is Boy.

Boy pretends it away, Boy holds the trump
card: he flies away. In tropical countries,
autumn is not a season. Boy watches the leaves
turn yellow. Boy is glad there are places Girl
is not.


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