From the collection Maximum Love in Patel Nagar, Red River 2023.
Patel Nagar in Winter
Now that Patel Nagar warms up to the sun
like a generously buttered toast,
Patel Nagar is drenched with a spoonful of winter.
Its pure desi ghee spirit
runs across unknown objects,
tenants, strangers, and friends
so deep that you cannot scan it
at Patel Nagar metro station
and caution people against its consequences.
People in Patel Nagar line up at ATMs
and drink tea to Patel Nagar’s abandon,
trusting unknown rays of the sun
and seeing it turn into gold.
Knowing in Patel Nagar
I can smell my neighbour’s soap;
houses are that close in Patel Nagar.
Antiseptics and detergents
as our bathrooms step onto each other.
One day we might meet,
put faces to the non-white noise,
exchange borderline pleasantries
without mentioning ‘I know you use Pears.’
But right now, let’s not get bothered about
the sounds of someone gargling
or throwing up in another building.
can never be the colour of exile.
It stands like sentinels of magic
as the white God
twists my ears
and blood crawls into
my ancestor’s bowl.
of old, huddled limbs
burnt skin and skeletons
are not tunnels.
They are always turned
Words need to be
lush and abundant
like this wild, wet womb
and then return
to the coconuts,
ruins, and gallows.
No beginning, middle, or end;
‘vigil’ sounds like the balcony
of a dilapidated building
before I call out the names
I am supposed to call out.
Students hang their shoes from the roof
and I am so scared
when knowledge descends from the ceilings
like white shreds of skin.
My chair does not face the wall —
this unlikely shelter
which has a lot of answers.
It is always good to dip your eyes in tea.
Metaphors May Lack Moisture
Trees know my love for them is limited.
Slightly over tourism and under
What my manager calls micro-green breaks.
In my house,
Tendrils grow only when I wait for you on the balcony.
My fingers twirl around you
And the marks under your eyes
Dry wrinkles can’t be described with metaphors.
Rather metaphors may lack moisture and warmth
And read like bare branches.
Bare branches look unfriended.
Leave the trees alone.
Let us stay in touch.
And be perfect
Like the pronounced orange darkness inside pumpkins.
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), her most recent collection of English language poems is Maximum Love in Patel Nagar, Red River 2023.