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Nabaneeta Dev Sen

The Jungle Story

My exile is over, mother,
No more living in the jungle for me
Come, mother, underneath this matted beard
Feed the familiar cheeks of your child
Open up your breasts, mother, and watch how
The seven streams of milk
Gush towards my parched tongue

Look at these feet, mother, the tiny feet
Where your golden bells had jingled
Look at this arm
Upon which you had tied your talisman
When I was born
Now look at this chest where you had planted
The sapling of a heart
In a soft green stretch of sun
In the hidden mesh of this dark jungle,
Has grown a hungry tree

With toothy leaves and sharp claws
And fierce flowers
It chews on other hearts
A fine flesh-eater

My time in the jungle is over, mother,
Now the jungle lives in me.

Memories Of A Floral Clock

Standing still by the nameless road
I hear the violence of rain
Beating on the panes
Going dark

Switching off the engine is not
Switching off memory
Your eyes
The floral clock
Survive the rain
And your tongue
The unseen pendulum
Keeps ticking away
Deep inside me
Telling time
Under the soil


Fourteen sticks to my hair like a blob of chewing gum
Adolescence in my palms
Moonwax trickling over my brow
Sum total: zero
Dream upon dream
Sum total: zero
Like adding dew to the wind…
This green mantle
Inside my eyes filling my eyes covering my eyes
Spread out on the dust
This green mantle
Step on it for a moment
Won’t you
Should I call it love
Should I call it longing
Inside my head these dark forests
In my heart these sixty miles of empty highway
Jamming my jaws, rocks
Choking my throat, sand dunes
Roaring inside my head, cascades
Within my eyes filling my eyes overflowing my eyes
The moon
Stars at my fingertips
Adolescence in my palms
Five rivers gushing out between the fingers of my clenched fist
The tears of the teens melt into the air

Translated by the poet

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