(February/'47 / Connecticut, USA)


When I was grouping for new poem
for the poetry festival,
poems danced all over the house:
in nooks and corners, in bed,
in boxes, in walls and curtains,
in windows and doors
poems beckoned with their hands.
They simmered on the stove
in the rasam pot, got flattened
under the rolling pins
on the chapati stone
and diced on the knife-stand
they boiled in the cooker
with salt and spices,
sautéed, smelling fragrant.

In the hall they were lying about begging to be picked up.
If I swept them, they asked to be
mopped; if I mopped them,
they wanted to be dressed,
stubborn pests, thorns
in my flesh.
Curtains where little hands
had wiped themselves,
torn books, sandal dropped,
chairs and tables pulled here and there,
cloths strewn on the floor
took on the shapes of poems
and dazzled my eyes.

When I cleared the mess
and sat down to rest,
one of them pestered me
asking me now to wash it,
now to give it a drink,
now to come play with it.

When at last I sat down to write
not one letter got written
and my brain was in a fog.
Late at night, when a sleepy hand
groped and hugged me
'to hell with the poem' I said
and fell asleep.
But it tickled me in a dream,
made me laugh and charmed me.

When I read that
in the poetry festival,
it ran out, refused to come back,
went inside the listeners and sat there.

I let it sit there
and returned home alone.

(Translated from the original Kannada into English by A K Ramanujan)

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