by Sumana Roy


The window’s a quilt
I scratch with toes
in my finger-sleep.
Two men climb a coconut tree.
Their feet are tied with rope.
Coconut coir anklets scratch
their heels, pinch old bark.
They are a collage of waves
in my language-fever.
One climbs, the other slides –
gnashes of curiosity
on my amulet mind.

The bed’s a mat
I rub with grass-skin.
Their sole-touches
are flute-whispers
to my beggar ears.
I lie awake –
my childhood returns
wrapped in coconut,
a naked roar
under my tongue.

Wetness is a wave
that arrives on
webbed feet.
It turns me woman,
then a midnight corpse.
My breath is a blur
against the sea.
My secrets wash water.
The doctor is a ghost
who mends socks
by night and sells
crutches by day.

I want to move.
To the rhythm
of snakes
in crowded zoos,
to the temper
of planktons
in belching seas.
I want to move
to a wayfarer’s lust.
For lust comes
only in anarchy,
in a stranger’s shoes.

I am poor.
My marijuana limbs
are Crusoe’s island.
Nothing moves
except cannibal feet.
I wait for stranger ships,
for snail crawl,
for sparrow smoke,
for you, stranger.

Nothing moves
in my city, stranger,
nothing except lust.
For you stranger,
my legs are statues.
For you I’ve waited,
to make me move –
to turn me from
mountain to river,
scar to pus,
a toe-ring bell.

And you’ll look away,
just, just because
I can’t walk?
Because I haven’t
walked through wars?
Are legs all –
carrier of hunger?
Is stillness a plague?

String dancers’ eyes
on deer-tails for me,
make me ghungroos,
make me the wind
on a lantern’s tongue,
a plough on land,
lightning on a flag,
dew simmering in the sun,
make me a wound,
a rotting fruit
that moves as it dies.
make me a lie,
make me your heart,
make me move,
make me your lust.


Sumana Roy is a writer and student in West Bengal, India.