Poetry | ‘Dream Hours’ & one other poem by Bibhu Padhi | Issue 38 (Feb, 2021)


The pictures of now,
this morning hour

are stored in the mind,
reappear in a vague

sequence of events
that belonged to the day.

The dark interiors of homes
so quietly visited last night

were affluent with meanings,
extensive in their despair.

Who else was there
beside you in their

explorations of light? Who
remained awake all through

the night with his prayers,
in benevolent splendour?

The letters and numbers
of a long-lost script

go darker, more remote,
with every hour, are written

all over your face
by old, decrepit fingers.

Who writes the biographies of gods
on structured walls, antic paper?


The body and the mind wake up
in the middle of the night,

blame each other for what they
lost to the night’s dark ambiguities.

Someone who was beside me
had left me alone, to the voices
of the day and my sleeplessness.

It is a long time before
the next sun is scheduled
to show itself on the horizon,

before the sacred chants rise
through our neighbour’s house.

All waiting has ended with
the decision to wake through
the night, chewing tobacco.

Outside the house, there are
sounds that have gone to sleep
along with the other sleepers.

The only other sound surrounds me
like an unending chant, seeping
deeper and deeper into my cells,

playing its healthy notes on
the protoplasm, the shining skin.

Sleep was forgotten long back,
while ways are invented to answer

the night’s questions. My woman
seeks my sleep, while I am writing
down my deep, dark answers of the skin.

Bibhu Padhi has published fifteen books of poetry. His work has appeared Contemporary Review, London Magazine, The Poetry Review, Poetry Wales, The Rialto, Stand, Wasafiri, America Media, The American ScholarAtlanta ReviewCommonweal, The Manhattan ReviewThe New CriterionPoet LorePoetry, Southwest Review, TriQuarterly,  Xavier Review, New Contrast, Takahe, The Antigonish Review, Dalhousie Review, and Queen’s Quarterly, among others. 

A Pushcart nominee, he has also been published widely in anthologies and textbooks. Five of the most recent are The Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Indian Poets, Language for a New Century (Norton) Journeys (HarperCollins), 60 Indian Poets (Penguin) and The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry.

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