Jayanta Mahapatra

22 October 1928 - / Cuttack / India

Sickles

Dust seems in no hurry now, sailing
the air. A ten-year-old girl
runs after her home-bound cows
through the ingenious sunset hour,
glancing briefly as we pass by
but gives no sign that she has seen us.

The day's last light
surprises us, leaving everyone
suddenly on an endless, desolate shore.
And a small desire to make love then.
Women returning home from fields of ripe grain
carry sickles in their tired hands.
The cut paddies cling to their quiet perches.

How little I understand myself,
among children who are mothers already
before the floods come, wetting the reeds on the shore;
among women desired, even as we are
indifferent to happenings by which they are possessed.

How the sickles shimmer with the reds of sunset
hidden in the twilight of their veins

Jayanta Mahapatra
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