Winter Evening, Northern Avenue
Then the winter's dusk settles on the streets
That are the city dreaming of its youth.
Press, press your ears against the moist gloom,
The washed-out pallour of the streets,
And suddenly, you are memory - for time here
Droops in an opium haze. You close your eyes,
Stand for a moment, and when you open them
You almost expect to be in the monochrome frames
Of a fifties film. Here you can ignore many things-
The occasional ring of a mobile phone or
The fibre-glass frivolousness of Japanese cars.
They are aberrations here - the past looms
In obstinate ignorance of its extinction.
God, it is everywhere! The houses cling to it
As they stand like ruined, once-proud minds.
The green mossy sludge of the drains
That outline cement roads that go nowhere
But the finality of a moss-worn wall -
They have a right to be here. Here, each syllable
Of the names that signify these roads, these houses,
Is a mirror heavy with shadows. For though the sounds
Belong to your language, they yet have an alien taste-
Shapeless cenotaphs of times and lives not yours.
The birds circle silently above, like spirits of the dead,
grieving the living. Through the tendrils of smog,
The stars shine down – an eternal alphabet of flame,
Turning, turning us into memory and light.
By Arka MukhopadhyayQLRS Vol. 7 No. 2 Apr 2008