Ready to move into a new house, my wardrobe, wrapped in cellophane, looks like a corpse.
So do the fridge and the table, when the workers load them safely on the truck.
I watch them from a distance, wrapped up in layers, like a corpse.
Ready to move into a new world, people dig deep into parks and markets.
Home pyres keep burning.
Ready to move into a new day, I brush my teeth and rinse my mouth,
slip into somnolent shirts and stare at ambulances
Like a corpse.
Birds and Borders
I can’t wipe death away.
Don’t show feathers in my balcony.
Fly away when you die.
Phenyl for the balcony.
Chairs washed with Dettol for freshly bought grocery.
Hand-rub for hands.
My house has strong-smelling borders.
Birds don’t care.
Their home, twigs, feathers, and deaths
are my deaths, feathers, twigs, and home.
I have un-deared you
arranging a few letters
five tins of syllables
with their lids tightly closed
put away in the new kitchen cabinet.
Rest of the house is old.
And does not get enough sunlight.
The room where I live
looks like the sea at four.
Mattresses piled up
like dark, disinfected waves.
This is where I look for pillows
after a rigorously forgetful lunch.
The corridor has a dressing table.
A surgically clean mirror
it looks at me.
A pedestrian trying to count the number of floors in a high-rise.
There are windows on my body.
Tiny flecks of well-lit boxes
empty and full.
As you know,
I call them ventilators.
Because I need to let the air and light in.
The road outside gleams beautifully.
People on them are kind.
They ask after the deep dark circles around my eyes
before fading into
what we know as the distance.
A word which begins softly and ends like the doors closing in a cage.
In spite of its drastic repute, I cling to its sound like an armchair poet.
I order streams to run into glaring afternoons in Patel Nagar.
Red dots gather near green fields in my childhood/you are not running but walking towards me with
your bicycle/in warm, liquid steps.
We can meet and start afresh, in blood.
Paulami Sengupta is a publishing professional based in Kolkata. Her poems (in English and Bangla) and translations have been published in Kabi Sammelan, Nether, Cold Noon, and The Sunflower Literary Collective. She has co-translated the Bengali edition of Salome: Woman of Valour by Adeena Karasick (Boibhashik Publications, 2020). Her recent collection of Bengali poems ( under her pen name Anjashi) is titled Bayosandhir Haraf (Boibhashik Publications, 2021).
Cover image: photo by en nico.