Six Poems of Joy Goswami

Translated from Bengali by Skye Lavin and Joy Goswami

This One Noon

This noon I do not sleep, I do not wake, I do not die, I do not live
Time enters the room through the window, until this noon I did not know my hand, my own thin hand is a lyre
You grab the hand like a musician grabs his instrument from elbow to index finger and you look at it as if
'what a wonderful thing it is'
Your lips fall from the peak of the finger on flashed the major and minor notes, on and on
In my palm you discover a red vein, what a surprise, it trembles, which until this noon I did not know

I knew nothing about water, land, and sky before this noon
I do not sleep, I do not wake, I do not die, I do not live only a bird
comes and lands on my face
A village falls like a stone into the river and the river changes its direction
Since that time, there is a stream of hill water in place of my home, I do not drown, I do not float, I do not fly

I am not more than this stream, if you cup me in your hands, you can refresh yourself
I can do no work except splash your face
The time for your swim has come…

You sink your head under the water and search out my eyes by holding your breath
You press your lips against my closed eyes and I remember my wolf's life, my scorpion's life, my python's life
my killer's life and the life of hiding in the forest
Once I promised to have you in my lips and after so many ages I have come to keep that promise
Now nobody will come here, only your head will come down to my lap

Again we'll search out one another, the pressure of your lips caught the life of this noon
This noon is a stream that is still, under this stream we will lie together we will not sleep we will not wake
we will not die and we were never born

because in this stream the time has stopped--- because

now we are making love

(--Ei Ekta Dupur; first published on Oct0ber 19, 1998 in Desh; collected in Kabita Sangraha;Volume 3, Page 250)

In the evening sadness comes...

In the evening sadness comes and stands by the door, his face
Is hidden, from the dying sun he took some colors and painted his body
The sadness comes in the evening,
I stretched my hand and he caught my wrist, in an iron-hard clasp
He caught me out from my room, his face
Is black, he is ahead of me and I follow him
I crossed from the evening to the night, from the night to the dawn, then the morning, the noon, the day, the month
Crossing water, tree, boat, city, hill
Crossing blows, stumbling, poison, suspicions, jealousy, graves, genocide, the bones and ribs of civilization, swamp and grass
Then crossing my own death, death after death, going on and on
The bony fingers holding nothing but a pen

(--`sandhyebela daraja dhare dNadaalo bishaad', Bishaad; Volume3, Pg.119)

One Man

Suspicion comes and sits on his shoulder one morning,
Slowly with long, thin beak, it cleans his ear,
When his eye closed with pleasure--- suspicion--- with a tweet entered
into the hollow of his ear,
and he did not notice.

Since then always the sound of the bird beating its wings in his skull,
When he tried to hear someone instead he heard that sound,
When he looked in someone's eye he always saw the eye of the bird,
Waking up every morning he cut off one friendship,
In the night when he lay beside his sleeping wife, checking his own body
He wants to examine it to be sure that his wife is not sleeping with anybody else.

(--`Ekjon', O: Swopno! ; Volume 2, Pg.259)

The burning bird drops

Sizzling sound in the water
My sleep broken
A billion years of sleep

Over whose head
The hole of the sky, the iron cloud, and
Under that, circling, the silence of sinking earth

(--`Jwolte jwolte paakhi poDchhe ', Surjyo-poDa chhaai; Volume 3, Pg.199)


Ash moves in the room, printed in darkness
Paper, book, cover, painting, the call of dead birds---
Ashes moving in the room, what is suppressed in the room
One trunk of stories wants to rise up from the floor

You have nothing to do:
you are the narrator
because once you took part in that story.
By pressing your own throat you strangled many times the shout of delight
You restrained the shout of delight when death was near.....

Are you dead? Or not?
Death appears, comes near, nearer, then disappears
This heart-breaking stress of pleasure, peculiar and unknown to you
Such a whip you have never felt before

What happened at last? After a torturous wait for her and your death-sucking lip
Overflowed the limit and the sky broke open.
Out rolled the storm of the destroyed
The storm of distress rolling onto the floor

But you are still restless, where, there is no peace, none---
Fire does not descend, fire does not bow his head!
Where do you throw the flames, where should you,
With that thought the cloud bangs his head, sky! sky!

Where is the tree? Who can take the flames?
You have burnt tree after tree after tree,
With that test, in the burned out darkness
Ash moves in the room, paper, book, painting....

Cover upon book--- inside the call of dead birds
Lightning flies, says, ‘will you be my dream tree?’
Oh? Again? The floor of the room cracks---

One trunk of fiction emerging from the void, poet!

(--`Kahinikar', Sananda, Pushpanjali, 1998; Volume 3, Pg.244)


Dead peacock in the dream
The moonlight fell upon his body

Cactus in the veranda
Room besides the roof

Dried-up old birds
Pierced by a skewer

In their voice
The hissing wind

The dead peacock is standing
In his body the firefly glittering

Moon is hanging on chain
Black pendulum

The slanting tree besides
Melting wooden house

Dead peacock in the dream
His clear eyes open

(--`Untitled', Surjyo-poDa chhaai; Volume 3, Pg.180)

Published September 20, 2004

Translated by the author and Skye Lavin. Skye Lavin is a graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop and is currently based in Madison, Wisconsin.(more).

Illustrated by Nilanjana Basu. Nilanjana has been regularly illustrating for Parabaas. She lives in New Hampshire.

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