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Guru Prasad Mohanty

The Doves Of My Eyes

The doves of my eyes strike against
the steel of the sky,
and repulsed, return to earth,
where, each day you wait alone
to discover the many meanings of life and death.

When the words, with their little palms,
touch the body of the motionless sands,
running through the grey heat of noons
I seek ancestral memories in your flesh.

You whisper the secrets of leaf and grass,
of cliffs and woods, moss and shell,
in forlorn nights through the tatter of clouds
the myths of the moon sailing to its death.

As you retrieve the ruined body of April
drifting helplessly in the whirlpools of sand,
it seems you love me and want me to come,
but where is your soul? and where my body?

And when the doves of my eyes return,
ripping the sky's wrongs, it is time's river
that flows through the weariness of your flesh
and carries my dreams along.

Leaves fall, unheard, in the quiet noon,
and the sun respires in silence.
The pine forest pales like smoke in the sky.
And I don't remember when, the doves of my eyes
flew into Ujjain or Cuttack, pursuing you.

Translated by Jayanta Mahapatra


How could the gulmohur
preserve its redness
in the unceasing traffic
of automobiles?

At some nondescript moment
of some forever-lost century
this redness began its journey
from some first stirring of blood
to the April sunlight of today.

This summer day
heaps red dust on the road
meandering across the treeless hill.
Tyres of cars, buses, trucks and jeeps
and the chimneys of the steel plant
belch red dust all the time.
How then can the gulmohur
preserve its own redness?

I look out of the window
of the superfast bus
through my sunglasses
and try to comprehend
actual problems of the red colour
and its present-day motives and conduct.

Are my looks as stupid
as the look of
the superannuated old chairman
of the Enquiry-Commission
set up after the crowd
took out processions, burnt buses, and
was lathi-charged and fired upon?

From its origin in ether
the gulmohur's redness
has descended on the road.
How could redness continue to be red
amidst all this automobile traffic?

Where does this redness go
after the annihilation of its being?
Does it travel to a sad, disarrayed,
unsure and ravaged sunset
in some horizon?

Translated by Ramakanta Rath

A Poem For Baba

This winter's fog
is like your grandma
like the grey gruel of her eyes
the jute-hair on her head;
the blurred skies of her looks
are the white patches of winter on the hills
with the tortured memory of dead worlds.

And she comes just as before
wrapped in a white shawl
bending on a stick
and behind her
countless rivers, waves, currents
endless roads, thirsts and tired faces.
Beneath her white shawl
all the dried-up milk
all those endless warm times
now grown cold.

The stars of your eyes
snatch away from my eyes
so many toys, their broken hands, legs, wheel
springs, pipes and numerous colours.
Someday my eyes too had done that
from your grandma's eyes
many stories, many songs
many kites and balloons beyond the skies
many tears, nightmares and the faces of old witches.

The sky of your eyes
is like my mother's
dark waves, dark clouds and the blue butterflies of your eyes
let them drink the honey of sunshine, clouds and the spring
and go across the school lessons, hockey and football
falling in love and writing love-letters
all the decay and loss, diseases and wants;
let the sky of your eyes go beyond boundless space
endless Time and the inexorable motion of Death
just as my mother's eyes.

This winter's fog climbs the steep of the hill
bent and resting on the stick
and beneath its white shawl
how many trees, thorns, wildflowers
the fangs of man-eating tigers
the wings of doves, the songs of crickets
the shadow of bats' wings and the sparkling stars
like the broken splinters of her house !

This winter's fog will climb
the steep of the hills and go beyond
the sky of your eyes
across the clouds of my eyes to your grandma
across the endless Time extending
to the horizons, to the seas and births
slipping from the star of your eyes.

And this winter's fog only my mother's
your grandma's ancient skin
the endless skies of her white shawl;
and so today I die in the star of your eyes
in the unending cycle of the rise and dissolution
of my many births and deaths.

Translated by Sitakant Mahapatra


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