Poems by Nitoo Das
Notes on the Rhododendron at Laitkynsew
This flower steals your eyes.
You have nowhere else to look.
When it falls, leaden with love
and a woman's accusations,
the earth cries out its name.
I am so alone here, but I walk on mud
clothed in red flowers and tell myself
go there, go there.
The tree screams with birds.
They recur, pollen-blessed.
It will take some time to drip its frills
dry in the wind. It is not yet time for this bud.
This flower cannot birth a garden, etc.
It needs dirt, the mark of teeth,
the sullen smell of decay.
It is both trance and nightmare: the colour
of a million smiles; the colour of gradual death.
It seduces you into a border.
It wants you to make sense of crowds.
It is a many-syllable flower escaping
the drumbeats of its name.
It is too vast for this poem.
for Purple Malik (1990-2009)
Purple is a pulse. Epic
and coded. A cuneiform colour. Stigmata.
Purple is an heathen iris. Almost aural,
almost static like the shehtoot
stains on your palms.
Purple exists in the interstices
blue and flailing fire. Glib
as aubergine, holy as a tattoo and strange
like mascara. Purple requires
a jamun tongue, a manic wine,
giddy triangles of grapes,
someone young. Something shifty,
sea-urchin spiky wraps around purple.
A mist, dappled and torrential, vows
distractedly: yes, this hunger is mine. This fury
of Celie is mine. Prophetic like wounds,
crazy like birth, never like prose.
Purple, then, is disciplined into ash. Purple purples
and becomes something else.
About the poet
Nitoo Das is a birder, caricaturist and poet. Her first collection of poetry, Boki, was published in 2008. Her poetry has been published in journals like Poetry International Web, Pratilipi, Muse India, Eclectica, Seven Sisters Post, North East Review, Four Quarters Magazine, Poetry with Prakriti, Vayavya, etc. Das teaches literature at Indraprastha College for Women, University of Delhi.