Poet’s Corner

The Middle Class Bengali Intellectual Makes Love to His Wife

by Arka Mukhopadhay

From somewhere, afar off
The sound of Darbari comes wafting in,
Soaked by the rain, yet
Sombre and dignified
And mingles with our breath

From a recess in the wall,
Framed gods look upon our mortal love-
Do they frown? Are they taking
The measure of our sin? Or do they
Get hard-ons, thinking of framed goddesses
In their divine minds?

Of course, I know there are
No such things as gods but knowing
Is not quite enough. What if
They are there, sitting in judgement 
A universe away?

Darbari swells in the night
Stray bits of Neruda flash by,
As I take your little finger and bite, not too hard
Imagining you to be a pale fruit of fire
That I unclasp from the tree of dawn.
See, Pablo? I can make metaphors too
And without private tutions from you;
Unlike that postman of yours.

You lie stretched, taut, still,
And I stop, my finger poised
Millimetres from your skin

Will the first brush of me
Break open each particle of you,
Convert you to white-hot wanting
Squaredvelocityoflight times greater
Than your fragile mass?

Darbari drifts in
Coated with dust from walls
That declaim: “Marxism is true
Because it is science.”
And the truth of your erect nipples
Straining against your blouse?
Is that science too?

My tongue traces fractal shapes on your stomach
Creating and obliterating many histories
Each within the other, each like the other
And they pass into half-uttered ghosts
Of memory that find voice in your moans.

In after hours, there will be time for wistfulness
For each day is a graveyard of memories,
And when we’ve gathered all our graveyards,
In after hours, there will be time for silences.

But now you look at me and see

Hector before the gates of Troy;

Though your face might not launch any ships

In our dream-denuded days, and though

Hector’s face has mutated for us

Into that of a Hollywood star’s.

There will be a tomorrow of pots and pans
That the milkman and the paperman will bring
In the various sounds the city will make, as it awakes
There will be no music. I will walk
Into my office, a little exhausted,
Be greeted by knowing winks, and you into yours.

But now Darbari oozes
From the cold, silver body of the sarod
And you emerge from your chrysalis of cotton and synthetic,
Lambent witch!! The only adornment left on you
Is your red coral bangle
In deference to the framed gods.

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