Poetry at Sangam



REWOUND by Dipika Mukherjee

You were not like the boys who would sneak into class
and leave notes on my desk (smeared chutney and ink),
you were not into bold or too shy deference,
no wild words, like heartbeats, marched wanton in lines.

I could well comprehend as the foreign-returned
how I reigned with large breasts bred on clean wholesome air,
Delhi’s smog had not marked me, nor Indian sun,
(though my glowing complexion would brown in six months),
As a veteran of crushes, I already knew
of heartbreak– and titillation– of the dark side.

I could not bewitch you not even a sly glance,
when in passing I’d slow in pretend nonchalance,
again pass that canteen, stop and go, one more time,
where you sat nibbling fried dysentery in each bite;
you were fearless with food, dangerous in your fame,
Never asked me for notes never whispered at all:
Did you finish that test? Sometime, I…can I call?

When we finally held clammy hands in the dark
of the cinema hall still too bright for our needs
between closed mouthed kisses your hand wandered then
stopped, abashed. When I had to return to my home
I could die but you said you would love only me
forever. It took two months to find someone new.

I would hear after years you had been in a jail
(drunk driving? accident? it was too long ago)
I would hear that you were still too different…Single…
and I’d feel the dark hall, a still wandering hand,
new magic and sizzle of endless possibility.