River Wedding by Amlanjyoti Goswami

AmlanCopies available HERE


As an afterthought
Someone whispers:
But we haven’t given her anything….

Soon, the kitchen bustles empty.
Pots and pans clang.
Blue as a vein, the cutlery,
Thick with age, but holding firm as a
Teenage arm.

When the pressure is finally, off the cooker,
Old plates lie side by side,
Waiting for the calling.

It was a humble solitary bowl
Stainless as steel,
One you wouldn’t give a second look to,
That made it:
A little rice and her favourite torkari,
Was all.
Soggy but easy
On the tongue,
Tasty with masala and love.

As if a bird had dipped in it, mid-flight home,
But not sated yet, the rice still lay there,
It would take more than a sitting…

At the common table, the familiar hum of
Would you like a little more?
Those words haunt me when I pour morsels home:
Today’s prawns are so good.

I was offered and
I looked in,
The taste of the pot, where we dwelled,
It tasted good.

It is hard to resist
The pull of memory
A feeling that pours like the snow
Of a grandmother’s last winter
Dappled longing
And the moment’s mood.

Calm, lunch done, the sun moves slowly
Down the late afternoon sky.
We too remove ourselves silent,
Like those plates, to the quiet of our rooms,
And wait,
For evening to stir us awake,
Night to call us again,
Morning to somehow, crawl back in,
To life, more life.

The kind that, like a child,
takes in a morsel, when nobody’s looking.

Reading Tibetan on the London Tube

A slim orange book, unfurling long lanky fingers
Like prayer flags
Four eyes work where two don’t,
And the third eye sees better than one.
Hair flows straight as the Himalayan stream
Where you were born, eyes radiant as first
Rays of a dawn eastern sun.
A suede bag slung light over the valley
Gives you away- a cosmopolitan of the new world
Holding the railing, just in case the centre of gravity
Moves from the holy mountain to the sparkling Thames.
When I ask, you smile, surprised,
I pore over the unknown letters, the familiar hieroglyphics
Similar to the tongue I was born with
My fingers stop at letters, and I utter words, for the first time,
Ba-ka- ma- like a baby.


Re- member-ing

Yes I remember
The queue in uniform
Snaking his home that morning
The long silence, ancient vultures, swooping

Our teacher’s husband.
Amiable, my father said, a good man.
Stepped out for the morning milk
Bullets ringing the street next door

Now I pass by the street
Cars in forgotten light.
Laughter rustling in uniform and
Behind the new building

Walled by the urge to move on,
The forgotten memory of

Manabendra Sarma.

Amlanjyoti Goswami’s poems have been published in India, Nepal, Hong Kong, the UK, USA, South Africa, Kenya and Germany, including the anthologies, ‘40 under 40: An Anthology of Post Globalisation Poetry (Poetrywala) and ‘A Change of Climate’ (Manchester Metropolitan University, Environmental Justice Foundation and the University of Edinburgh). His poems have also appeared on street walls in Christchurch, exhibitions in Johannesburg and buses in Philadelphia. He studied at the Universities of Delhi and Harvard. He grew up in Guwahati, Assam and lives in Delhi.

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