~ 1 ~

At the entrance to heaven
A tourism poster hangs
I stand beneath it
Holding immigration papers

No more music now
No more of counting the stars
In the circus of fairies and nymphs

The band plays
Many hippos, many giraffes
And a walrus
Moving in a queue
Towards the entrance to heaven

Beneath the tourism poster
I wonder, floating in my dream,
When I will wake up
And tell the boy at the tea shop
Can you wash the cup in warm water
And give me some tea

~ 2 ~

I’ll see only the eyes
Of the man who’s playing the violin
When he’s done playing
He’ll talk to a cat
Walking along the top of a wall
The cat will disappear
Then he will put the violin to bed
And say words of love
To a poem
I’ll see only his eyes
Eyes in which October is blazing
The man who’s playing the violin

~ 3 ~

The afternoon ended at this point
At the crossroads anguished by echoes

Before that
The summary of your figure
Touched my heart
In a very short time
And, like an echo
Vanished in vibrations

The afternoon ended at this anguished crossroads

Perhaps this is the best way to be
When the traffic lights turn green
From the anguished crossroads, two echoes
Vanished in their respective directions

~ 4 ~

A black man with a banjo
A Spaniard with a guitar
Listening to them
He climbs up to the concrete freeway
He can hear the drumbeats of the tyres
The blazing Texas sun overhead
He’s come a long way in search
Of what doesn’t burn even
When burning
Spotting the sky, he says
Come, clouds, give us some shade

Black people’s jazz
The white symphony of the New World
Take the exits from the freeway
One by one to spread out
Across the entire continent

Now he
Genuflects to Whitman’s poetry
Come, poet, give us some shade
Tell us how
Amidst such storms and currents
We can frame a song

~ 5 ~

This mountain, this lake
Present a scene
That I will make sure to remember
And tell you of one day

I will make sure to remember
The melody in my flesh and blood
That rang out like a waterfall
The sigh from this expanse
That made a home in my heart
And take them for you

These streets, this stop sign
The architect’s automobile dream
This Harlem, with memories
Of slaves male and female

This blue song of darkness
I will remind you of
On an evening of yours
When one day I will
Present my love to you

~ 6 ~

I got very late saying goodbye to the sun
The crowds have thinned downtown
I used to call the one or two people
Sitting on roadside benches old men
They’re my age now

I’m assuming
You once viewed my youth the same way you view
All those people racing along the sidewalks

It’s time to return home after a long weekend
The moon came to a stop above the fiftieth floor
Rising from the bench
Floating into the air like a helium balloon
From my eyelids drooping with exhaustion
My slumber
Climbed upwards to touch the moon

~ 7 ~

Just a little further on, the river
Will have its speed limit raised
Automatic transmission will turn it into
Fast-flowing rapids
And then a giant waterfall

Desiring a supple rainbow
It will leap into eternal uncertainty

Just a little further on, the river
Will forget itself
And turn into the sea

~ 8 ~

I can say it now
While the setting sun talks to me
I can take the wrong exit by mistake
Lose my way for a while
And then return to you
While the golden dusk talks to me

The Chotanagpur plateau in the evening
Like this one, did you want to find a way there too
Here the stone highway took us such a long way
Still our eyes are worn out looking for hope
Yet it can be said right now I can say
While the setting sun talks to me

~ 9 ~

The man’s gigantic
Black – or perhaps white – or brown
The man’s very heavy
His shadow’s even heavier
Shadows of sad people weight a lot more

In search of his television
The man is driving very fast
His dinner
He’ll race out of the car
And sit on the couch facing the TV
A city will
Be lost then within a shadow
The shadow of a sad man

Out of the subway and into the streetcar
Shadows racing in search of their television
Saturday market on the waterfront
Young women shopping in young men’s boutiques
Bright young women
Without any shadows

The shadow of a sad man
He’s huge, black – or perhaps white – or brown
Very heavy
His shadow’s even heavier

~ 10 ~

The forest approached
The deck behind the house
Drew up a chair

A pitch black squirrel will appear
Pluck and eat a pear from the tree
Run up and down the apple boughs
Signs of the slave age in the apple orchard
Does the black squirrel know them?

At times the sound of the traffic
Will waft from the road behind
To the deck
Chat with the forest

The whispers of the river will be audible
The day the barbecue will blaze
Tinkling sounds will come from the party
Unrestrained currents of laughter.

~ 11 ~

The day has been accounted for in creating dreams
After which a vagrant darkness
Is crowding my breast
Making it impossible to have those dreams
My road meanders
From one darkness into another
From one violence into another

The woman in the ghetto is drunk
In another life or another land
She could have been my wife
If I knew the armed mugger’s name
He could have been someone like my son

Under the guise of abundance
Enough food is thrown away every day
To girdle the planet end to end
The scent of the food makes seagulls
Forget the coast and sky inland
And borrow babies’ voices to weep

Dreaming of the New World
Strangers from everywhere arrive
Like those seagulls. Consigning
The old sanctuaries to the flames
And conducting their funerals, one day
They’ll throttle their weeping till it dies
From the innards of one violence
I travel towards another one

As I make dreams, the wretched darkness
That closes in around my breast
Is not the dream I wanted to have
I travel great distances from one continent
To another continent with a dream of love
So that I can love you once
No, twice
No, a million billion times

Translated from the Bengali by Arunava Sinha.