Two Poems
Nandini Dhar


We both have memorized
the morality of the story—
this is the only way a seedling can sprout.
We are both ten.
And, I am tearing apart a piece of the sky.
Straightening it with all of my fingers. Straightening
it and straightening it, rolling it up
as parchment paper. On its indigo,
Tombur has promised
to draw the atlas of our town.
Without leaving anything out:
thickets of togor that draw us in,
every circus that has ever stopped here,
every beat of the night watchman’s stick,
every empty booth of every closed down factory-canteen.

Once upon a time. Young men, too eager
         to trace their footprints
in unfamiliar outlines of blood, had left their homes.
Some were mere boys. Our neighbors
          remember their names—
Saral, Subir, Bidya. Rathin, Bablu, Biltu. Muzzaffer.
           Yet, when they remember
the years of heralding the vernal,
they do not talk of the boys they knew.
                 They unbutton tales of that unnamed corpse:
cheeks swollen like the belly of a fish,
                  white and yellow cotton-shirt—wet and torn.
Skin white as bone. Lips and eyes open:

what could he see that others didn’t?

what did he say that no one wanted to hear?

Every neighborhood marked
by its unnamed corpse: whose unnamed corpse
did our uncles become?

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