Poetry at Sangam



EASY MARK by Mangalesh Dabral

(Inspired by two poems by Polish poet Wisława Szymborska and Hindi poet Raghuvir Sahay.)

(Translated from the Hindi by Daisy Rockwell.)

My human body is an easy mark for power
In the face of power it is weak and helpless
Weak and frail are its hair and nails
which appear only at the gates of the body
skin so thin it bleeds from just a scratch
Its tiny heart has come most often within striking range
as it beats so softly
it cannot be heard outside my body
When my human body examines itself in the mirror
anyone can see that it is beautiful and afraid

My human body is quite attractive to torturers
They know it has many uses
It can be taken in for experiments
to see just how much pain it can endure
how long will it tolerate ice and electric shocks
they have even considered using its fat to make soap
Dachau Auschwitz Mai Lai Gulag Guantanamo Abu Ghraib Gujarat
it bears so many scars
from long experience it divines
what sort of torture it must endure next 

Earth air water just a bit of fire
and just a bit of sky make up my body
it’s easy to combine it with earth air water and fire
its soul is like a drop of water
that is easily wiped clean

an existence that is entirely fragile
one needs no weapon to efface it
it will simply fly away like a dried leaf or a plucked feather
a puff of breath from someone powerful is enough to blow it away
and it will fly away like a dried leaf or a plucked feather
All tyrants know it is unique
and cannot be recreated

My human body is not hidden in a dungeon
it is always visible
engaged in ordinary activities somewhere nearby
it crosses the street and walks a ways
tires and sits and rises again
loves and blossoms like a flower
the worlds’ dictators have no need to search it out

This human body, unique in the world, gathers a bit of courage
and stands before power alone and unarmed