Poetry at Sangam



IN BHILAI by Ashok Vajpeyi

Translated from the Hindi by Rahul Soni.


Even there, where a machine chops off
iron’s burning outstretched arms with an inhuman sound
I will sleep soundly
and wake refreshed
without getting tangled up in nightmares –
and unmolested by any sweet word or gesture
I will remember you:
in an endless summer I may forget the seasons
but I will still recognise those fragrant days
when in my arms
your unwearied beauty will flower:
a murderous noise will be all around
and my heart
like molten incandescent iron
will flow towards you on countless paths
that you can keep shaping
to your heart’s desires –

            Then one night when
            your blood and your heart and your love
            will start becoming heavy like steel,
            I will
call out to you
from under the trains that carry people and coal
from behind the lights that guard sleeping cities:
the earth will be dazed like heavy black fear
the overcast sky will be still like death
and my countless parts will wait for you
near the machine-gates –