Poems by Sumana Roy
I’d wanted you ever since you brought the white night queens
for Mrs. Moraes in Class One.
To hold the entire night in a smell
and gift it to a teacher needed courage.
You were a train in the school play –
Compartment Number Four.
I was a tree face smiling at the door.
“One, two, buckle my shoe ...”
I could’ve been orphan grass, yawning to gulp
your tiny shoe-buckled feet.
Weekends became a curse which I wished death.
Love was hopscotch we played with our student eyes.
We were the pigeon caste.
Love was a message in chalk dust.
The classroom was a banyan tree –
we hung from its roots,
You were Tarzan, I Jane, left-handed and free.
“Three, four, knock at the door ...”
Watching was a hymn I sang like a mermaid.
I could tell your shadow from the rest:
thin, I touched it against the wall
as you passed by in haste,
from so far away, the third bench from your nest.
My heart was a telescope that brought you nearer than ‘ABC’.
I heard you breathing inside me.
“Five, six, pick up the sticks ...”
Your gaze was a constellation of broken egg shells,
report cards and haunted school bells.
You were a sunflower.
My handwriting, its steepness, turned towards you.
I was a widow without a “Present Miss” after your name.
Why were you absent when our love was so new?
I was jealous of your illness. Love needs eyes, a few.
“Seven, eight, lay them straight ...”
Pythagoras Theorem was cotton plug in my ears.
The attention-seeking board, the stadium of chalk love,
the classroom’s flawed geometry:
lines don’t join, leaks and gaps above.
You’d turned me animal –
Our marsupial love in the prayer hall.
My encounter with adulthood –
the toilet wall graffiti and your tuition gait.
“The penis is mightier than the pen.”
“Nine, ten, a big fat hen ...”
About the poet
Sumana Roy writes from Siliguri, a small town in sub-Himalayan Bengal, India.