Debasish Lahiri’s poems have been widely published in journals like The Journal of the Poetry Society of India, Muse-India, Indian Literature, Inkapture, The Poetry Salzburg Review, Weber: The Contemporary West, Six Seasons Review, Byword, The Punch Magazine and The French Literary Review among others; in French translation in Siècle 21, Europe, Recours au Poème & La Traductière; and in Portuguese in NERVO: Colectivo de Poesia.
His four collections of poetry are: First Will & Testament (2012), No Waiting like Departure (2016) Tinder Tender: Poems of Love & Loitering (2018) and Poppies in the Post & Other Poems (2020). His collection of poems on Roman plebeian life in Britain, Legion of Lost Letters, is forthcoming in 2021 from Black Spring Press, UK.
Lahiri is the recipient of the Prix-du Merite, Naji Naaman Literary Prize 2019. He is an honorary member of Maison Naaman pour la Culture.
Debasish Lahiri lives in Kolkata, India.
The sea on a painter’s canvas
Is a few thumb-inches of turquoise.
Becomes the wind’s loitering with the water.
Is a white bone on a white shoulder
Softened by desire;
The parasol and towel,
The silk and the gauze,
Artfully coaxed into slipping
Off the fine gravel of skin
That the sun has burnt
Looks like hair out-of-place
Awaiting the return of love
And the tide.
I have looked at the sea
Over Helen’s shoulder for centuries.
All I have seen
Is a sky out-of-place,
And a sea out-of-place,
Exhaling a sea of argosies, —
Lost lovers hiding behind waves on distant shores, —
That refuses to return
As the sea she has inhaled,
And lost forever inhaling,
Is in place.
She now crushes the sand in her fist,
Like time in the hourglass of longing,
With the ardour of lovemaking.
Helen’s old lovers have perished
Between azure sheets of sky and sea,
Dying of forgetfulness
In hot olive groves of memory.
I have looked for centuries
At the sea
Over Helen’s shoulder
And seen undying love
In thumb-inches of turquoise.
I have not seen the bones of her dead lovers.
May be my painting is out-of-place.
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Poetry in this post: © Debasish Lahiri
Published with the permission of Debasish Lahiri