ASHTRAY and other poems by Daisy Barman

Poetry editor ANANYA S GUHA’s note: Daisy Barman‘s poems are earthy, redolent of rural and rustic life. There is nostalgia and yearning in her poems. The poems move directly in associated speech, as if the in conversation with someone. Her poems are confessional, but in such confessions life rural Assam is evoked with clarity. The poems may appear simple, but in them there is a tradition of rural and folk poetry. Enjoy these poems!

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ASHTRAY

 

An eerie midnight, so whispers the clock.

Sleep kisses and vanishes.

I’ve no pal to talk, but worthy cigarettes.

The steady ashtray stands watchful.

Each cigarette-butt put in its wide mouth

avers how many times I fell from the pier of gaudy crowd.

The curls dance up in fickle rhythm

In the wintry cold room.

I hear none, none hears me.

But I sense the soaring sound

Of each gyrating movement of my mother’s barhoni

Coming to me.

Each morning she would sweep

The earthy yard to keep it clean.

I heard from a distance

She cleaned the yard for me.

So I could crawl, play and dream.

The silvery evenings lingered on her chadar.

On the murha, she sat to narrate me stories.

I mistook her for Paanexoi and Tejimola

Her lips versed their cries.

I could see their despair, their hope

Becoming words in her eyes.

How I long for the smell of raw earth!

For it is there that the imprints of my mother’s feet lie.

The yard that she swept for me

So I could crawl, play and dream.

 

In a decade which still seems a jiffy

I lost my mother and I lost the yard.

Now I have a concrete room decorated with her memories

But without a yard.

 

I’m done playing and still dreaming.

The yard that I crawled is a blurry

Canvas steeped in past

That I scribble on,

With an ashtray before me.

 

Smoke dances in the song of silence

And I look for words.

To dip in, to fuse in,

To smell the earthy smell.

To defeat time.

And relive the tales of soil

In my mother’s eyes. Again. Anew.

~

 

RECALL

 

 The beige-hued curtain swaying

in the fog-capped evening

evokes a moon-soaked image

from my home.

 

Through the clay-smeared bamboo walls

of the kitchen, breathed the jejune

earthen crocks. The gourd-shells heedfully

stored the moonlight from my

aunt’s eyelids in the dark.

 

The crimson of the sunset

dawdled on her back

that smelled like ripe guava.

 

Her sighs in the gust

rippled on the pond

pond in her heart

Her heart in the fables untold.

 

She pampered the loom

The loom giggled at her touch

little marvel, little thrill that

lessened the sky encumbered

 wind onerous. The shuttle

sketched dreams for her.

 

Her spry fingers touched the sapless

firewood for day and night

Did her heart become sapless too?

I sense the sobs shoaling faster.

 

Seasons alter and you get older.

 

I rub the neat windowpane

There’s no cow-dung, no clay.

 

Does the loom still giggle

or it bears a grudge?

 

The image wouldn’t disperse

never, never!

For my memory has it homed

forever!

 

I have no loom

but seedlings of verse

hatched for the future

for my daughter

of the past forlorn

of memory’s tethered trudge!

~

 

LIGHT IS DARK NOW

 

I step out of the room every night

The vacuum pangs are too heavy to carry

so is the allure of a night as though

it would tell stories.

 

Hours strike sporadically in the dark.

 

Longing for an embrace,

lost aroma, lost senses

lost memory and lost faces.

 

Light is dark now.

 

There are figures treading along in my forehead

Glittering in the dark

I see them walking on broken mirror.

 

Who are they humming in the distant cave,

restlessly waiting for sun rays?

 

I’m actually looking for the screaming owls

lost in the smoke from incense sticks

I’m looking for the old people

amid their old pains.

My deep breaths…make their

weary sighs even clearer.

 

Still:

Resting on my knees in the open meadow

I pray. Pray for them.

May no morning ever turn out to be hapless!

 

THE WONDER FLOWER

 

 In between our moves in the dim room

 it blossomed and startled me like a hushed bee.

Fastening his breaths onto my skin

 I embraced the holy gift.

 

 The wonder flower it was!

 

 It thrived in my longing lips

and hurled his whispers

 on my unraveled world beneath.

My vagrant soul feels a sense of home since.

~

MIDNIGHT BABBLE

 

Something clamps the heart
Exploding my existence
Like steaming lava
Every midnight.

The cry of silence in grudge
So intolerable! 
Like the leaves of peepul tree
On the bank of our river
My body shivers.

The wind shatters the inside
And in the inside of the inside
The smidgens of dream lay abandoned.

I float like a thick smoke.
The shadows guffaw in gloom.
I hear its husky whispers.

Before I am distilled entirely
I am consumed by a dream-like trance.

I will sow some of your affection
in the barren garden
And the tales of the alive past.
I will dream again
Of you carrying the sought-for sun
Every next morning
After a tempestuous night.

If I am to live, you have to be reborn
If I am to have a life, you have to be the synergy and the soul.

(About Daisy Barman: Hailing from the backwaters of Baksa district in Assam Daisy Barman writes both in English and Assamese.  She writes poems to calm her soul. She is a Doctoral Research Scholar in the Department of Folklore Research in Gauhati University.)