King’s Court, Bandh
No cars on the roads, no tyres
rolling over the chalked squares
on the concrete strip between the
godown and the playground.
Tamarind was a paperback
on my mother’s bedside table,
a sketch in Singapore. Imli,
on the other hand, was everywhere.
In the silence, we ran relays
up and down the compound,
played cricket, played tapes
from England and America, bootlegging
sounds we reflected back like rooms
full of mirrors.
It was that sort of day,
exciting and deceitful,
sealed in a jar that smelt of vinegar
and eggplant, fried garlic and onion. Basic
like that. The radhachura branch
outside the dining-room window
glistening like an oiled muscle
flexed to strike. It must have rained.
Such happiness. Such sadness.
The dove-like softness of my sister’s hair.
The rhythm of hopscotch.
Over us the white carapace of history
Mutations in scale
Try not to think of music: how blood sings
louder than machines, how solitude
scrapes the night. Substitute
instead a room
beyond the garden wall.
A lamp is on.
This is not our time, this time. The sound
of darkness is mechanical. Snow
drips. Instead of scales, here’s copper
hammered into moons.
Bubbled glass as counterpoint.
Note their silence.
Perseverance landed in a cloud
of dust. What stood out was
the pure nothingness of the colour red.
One day, we’ll breathe it in and break it.
Ayesha Chatterjee is a poet from Kolkata, India who has lived in the UK, Germany and the USA, and is now based in Toronto, Canada. She earned a BA in English and German from Smith College where she graduated cum laude. She has two poetry collections and has been published in journals across the globe including The Moth (Ireland),Magma Poetry (UK) and Exile Quarterly (Canada). Several of her poems have been recently set to music by Canadian composers in a range of genres, including classical, jazz and opera.