Read Me Your Poems


© 2005, Udaya Narayana Singh
From: Madhyampurush Ekvachan
Publisher: Vani Prakashan, New Delhi, 2005
ISBN: 8181834625

You led me, your old lover,
to your new house,

down the valley,
upon the hills.

You didn’t know the way yourself
and asked a passing cloud.

I still recall the smile on his face
when he found me with you.

I don’t blame the cloud
or the stars and constellations –

the geometric figures of destiny
that have conspired to part us.

Or the crater, by the edge
of which we met the last time.

Or the sharp gravel
that trIes the fortitude of earth,

and makes obscene gestures at me,
together with the uneven stones.

I don’t blame the stones
or the geography of darkness

that has left no seat or bed
for us to rest upon.

I don’t blame the signals
which we left far behind,

sent by the sun and the earth,
or the signs of stars

or the fear of separation –
all of which together conspired

so that we won’t speak
those memorable words.

Words that do no emerge
from memories, or live there;

Words that would have held
us together in a nameless bond,

in a pure kinship
not yet defined;

Words that I always
wanted to speak to you

but have been losing my grip on,
like the moments I wanted to spend with you.

The silence is stifling.

Yet I don’t blame the silence,
or those inscriptions on the wall,
the foreign letters
I haven’t yet learnt to read –
the private hill of papers
that bore your signature,
the piled-up poems of yours
which almost filled the crater,
mounting lines of poems on which
I always wanted to climb couldn’t.

I don’t blame the lines, the space
between which I wanted to read to you,

or the meaning
between your eyes and eyebrows,

the void between your lips
the unspoken dialect.

You do not own treachery.

You led me, your old lover,
to your new house,
down the valley,
upon the hills.
I have now come back to you,
having learnt your language,
burning with a desire
as clear as the hill –

to read all your poems,
lines, inscriptions;

I now know
how to read your signature.

But why do you show me
such mundane things:

sand, cement, door-frames,
tiles and crowbars?

Why do you tell me
all about the kitchen-in-the-making,
the closets on the wall,
the direction of your bedroom,
the false roofing?

Why don’t you read me a few poems
in your own language
and let me take them in?

12 October, 1994

© Translation: 2006, Udaya Narayana Singh with Rizio Yohannan Raj
From: Second Person Singular
Publisher: Katha, New Delhi, 2006
ISBN: 8189020579


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