June 3, 2016

A Poem by Namrata Pathak: "Devi in a Metropolis - I."

Namrata Pathak's book,Trends in Contemporary Assamese Theatre (2015), maps the contours of experimental theatre in Assam. She has been published in journals like Aneekant: A Journal of Polysemic Thought, DUJES, Muse India, North-East Review, Protocol, Ruminations, and Negotiations etc. Currently she is working on a women’s writing series, Writing from the Periphery: Women's Writing in the North-East.

Photo Courtesy of Namrata Pathak





Devi in a Metropolis - I


Devi splits open
a trail of bird-prints
in a textured Delhi:
the night is stale like her mouth,
ashen, cigarette-raw,
sitting still
in graphics of de-growth.
Her parched skin
thirsty like the laburnum,
eyes melt the thermodynamic quotient
in seeing the unseen
as sour stocks
braid
the roots
of dwarfish bonsais.


Devi
chews the edge
of the iron bars
in white cross-cuts of the sun.
Fleshy and garrulous, leaf by leaf
the sun walks away.


In the Delhi sky
youths carve a catastrophe
out of clouds,
alignments, light,
rows of feathers
as Devi makes
violence
out of rock-hued letters


Devi grows histories
in landscapes:
of scavenger birds,
talons, and beaks,
of leather-sheaths, scales,
brown swords, two peering eyes,
till one day you misrepresent.
You misrepresent
rhododendrons
tweaking at the corner of her mouth;
you misrepresent
every map on her body.


As she drowns her face
in a psychedelic adultery,
vegetable dyes and
blocks,
she sees all yet none.
Languidly, you let her absorb gods
in medicated quantities.


At once blind but all-seeing
she thrusts out her oblong body
in scavenger feats.  
Devi dismembers.


Marked,
she is the curl of the skin
in a matrix
of ‘hide me’, ‘hide me’.
She wears simmer on her ugly nose-ridge
yet she is seen.


In rickety fans
the stalks of fluorescent yellow
pound the summer
on the back of the ceiling
Devi stokes the heat,
kills it
in perforated sighs of lime water.

Sleep coils in a tapestry of nubile threads
as Devi picks
the starched mushroom-mouths
from the walls.


Her hands are pitcher-flowers in bloom
on the acrid floor
of your house.
Near that stiff barricade that expands
to hold the third-eye of  Devi,
the moon sits cross-legged, not moving an inch.


Her palms run down in cracks
marbles, leftovers,
rejection.
Days are no different.
They walk on a tightrope
from this pole to that pole.
Sun-caked faces hanging on the dull porch
peck and fly.
One after another
a vinegar-smell
becomes a shadow.


Her tongues blast
your red-bricked silence
into hair, bits,
thin lines.


She sutures your language
in ten graveyard-nails.
You lose your grammar.
She loses a country.

First appeared in Dead Snakes

~ Namrata Pathak

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