Jayanta Mahapatra

22 October 1928 - / Cuttack / India

A Grey Haze Over the Ricefields

A grey haze over the ricefields.
The black cow grazing with her new-born calf,
long-legged, unsteady—
or trucks going past the high road:
such things only claim
that I am looking out in search of memory,
not death. Those little kisses on our cheeks
my long-dead grandmother gave me, or
the soft dampness of my tears when
my mother did not notice me
from beyond the closed door of her youth.

Today the dangling thread stops half-way down,
where my hands cannot touch it.
It's not that I wait for judgment.
But at times I see a shadow
move slowly over these, a shadow freed
from the past and from the future,
that contains the footsteps of that childhood
so light I can only think of squirrels
slipping in and out of the mango trees.
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