by Anindita Sengupta
The smell of hashish in the air is a dancing
thing. The girl’s small, curved hands are
like two shells in sleep. The bartender
raises his foot and brings it down on a
crab, spilling its meat onto the sand, leaving
a pattern in entrails. I eat my tuna salad.
The boys on the beach turn over in their sleep
and the one-eyed man in the café cups
his face thoughtfully. Such violence
on gentle shores is common.
In the distance, a blue boat is a blemish
I could rub away, a
transgression. The beach continues to
burn in its silent, unstoppable way.
This is the space of distilled things.
Sunlight filters through the jagged
red edges of leaves and a Carnatic raga
in the house across the street
is pleasanter for being remote
and beyond my control. Still further,
the faint sounds of delighted shouts
over something surprisingly found.
Pale-headed Anthurium speckle
the green. Pure. Spatulate. Each
tentatively nodding flower holed
with little flecks of emptiness
where body should have shone.
The snails have been at it again.
Oil lamps in bright pink, gold and
green, now extinguished, are calm
as a row of Kathakali dancers at rest,
their masks off, hands still.
The night’s festivities are over,
they seem to say, and it is time
to seek the darknesses.
I gulp the cool, clear rustle of air.
Its sharpness on my tongue is the
memory of unripe berries, peppermint,
orgasm. I curl my toes into moist soil
hear the earth cake between them.
I will walk to the store this way
barefoot, earth-smudged, sated.