Sahana Mukherjee’s two-part poem concretely explores the pendulous sway between father and mother as seen from the viewpoint of an offspring.
Seven stories up your shore, father. How do you do?
The moon has burnt up the beehive behind our house.
The house has burnt up another. Who can burn to the
Rhythm of a song? I can, so can you.
Seven songs up your shore, father. What will you do?
Rain has broken in. It reigns under your bed now.
The bed has invited fire; a cluster of raging clouds.
Who will stay afloat? I will, so will you.
Seven waves up your shore, father. Where will you go?
Night has crept in like a mouse, sniffing for your heart.
Let it feed off you. Let it nourish its house. A call so close –
Who can move away? Neither can I, nor you.
Autumn, like the hands of my mother,
Has fallen short of pain.
It has rowed a boat for too long
Over the clumsy waters of time;
Sunk into reedy pits, pungent histories;
Sung a song or two of trees
And lemony daughters.
But, now there’s an ever-yawning hole
Under the begging bowl
Where the cold of last winter crept in.
Mother, like autumn, now returns home
Alone, in suspended glory.
Author of August Ache, Sahana Mukherjee is a Junior Research Fellow at the Department of English, Jadavpur University. She is currently finishing her MPhil thesis entitled, ‘Poetry and the Location of Dreaming in Kashmir’. She won the 2017 Charles Wallace fellowship in Creative Writing at the University of Edinburgh.