Tuesday, March 22, 2011

World Water Day Special: Green Poetry by Sumana Roy


You hear its hinges now, 
peeling the silence 
on purple-grey evenings.
Creaks are earned, 
like grey hair, 
an old adage laid bare.

Even rivers lose girth. 
Knuckles and veins 
rise like Lazarus
to a snot-green birth. 

Every river has its tales.
Here there’s a dearth
for this is now a city's river, 
the river of eyeglasses
and a thousand calling bells.

Where are the stories of baits, 
of tamed knots and fishermen's nets?

Stories come
from crevices of curses, 
from foliage of fear,
from rotting juices 
of abandoned babies, 
leaking into a sap of slums 
that line the river's skin 
like hair on a woman's chin.

In this city where shops shut 
their eyelids early,
the river wears laziness. 
It flows like mourning.
The crematorium washes 
its hands off the dead. 
'Stock-keeping is a river's 
responsibility,' it said.

Two legs of bridges on its chest, 
like Kali’s on her husband's, at rest. 

Season is the river's pre-partum depression, 
Evening is a vapour opening like her yawn.

On evenings when the sky's a white lie,
I see ambulances, 
red lights gasping, shrieking– 
the river's in hospital, waiting to die. 

Fish moved inside its body once, 
like kites in a windy sky.
Now a black crow alights 
on its neon-flaked skin. 
It pecks 
and claws 
and caws,
flies to a new surname,
wearing a dead fin. 

It’s the time of disease, 
of waiting for belatedness, 
of giant wheels of smoke.
The riverits spools 
of uncoiled weed tapes– 
becomes a recording studio.
It records the firewood's
crackle, the priest's chants.

Life becomes a sign
the river a map’s thin line.

And school children
on their way home
change its name and sing:
Maha-ganda, Maha-ganda
Hope you are fine!"

*This is as much Saikat Chakraborty’s poem as it is mine, or the river Mahananda’s. 

Sumana Roy lives in Siliguri, a small town in Bengal. The river Mahananda, that gave a rhythm to childhoods like hers once, now runs feebly through her town. She hopes to travel upstream to the river’s home some day. 

You can read more green poetry, including another river poem by Sumana Roy, on our Voices page. And why not check out last year's World Water Day Special on Delhi's Nallahs.


  1. liked some of the imagery and enjoyed the flow of the verse, almost like a river itself...

  2. An evocative poem, with loads of symbolism. This poem operates at multiple level. Sample Sumana's expression:
    Stories come
    from crevices of curses,
    from foliage of fear,
    from rotting juices
    of abandoned babies

    Am speechless....may be I should flow with its current to escape literary death and decay. Thanks, Sumana :)

  3. Imagery of Kali is thought provoking...am able to visualize all the graphic details of the poem...
    even in HYderabad the river Musi...used to be the only source of water during the Nizam's time...now is a dump and like a gutter..the pristine glory is lost...

  4. sumana has taken me with her in this poem one can feel sensitivity .....life in words really today i feel how true are my intuitions without reading her i could think so much about her talents here i find i am short of words it makes nostelgic

  5. Đối với mỗi công ty văn phòng làm việc thì một trong những sản phẩm nội thất không thể thiếu là bàn và ghế cho nhân viên và người quản lý.Tùy thuộc vào điều kiện của mỗi công ty văn phòng mà có thể chọn mua cho mình những mẫu ban van phong hoa phat để sử dụng được đúng mục đích và nhu cầu mà lại giảm đi chi phí cho công ty. Nhưng hiện tại trên thị trường có rất nhiều mẫu bàn ghế văn phòng khác nhau nhiều kiểu dáng, chất liệu kích thước, giá cả…cho nên khiến cho người mua luôn trong trình trạng gặp bối rối khi đi mua hàng chọn đúng sản phẩm theo yêu cầu. Nên thế chúng tôi siêu thị nội thất 256 chuyên cung cấp các mẫu bàn làm việc giá rẻ hcm của chúng tôi với thiết kế nhiều mẫu mã và giá cả canh tranh. Ngoài ra chúng tôi sản xuất bàn và cung cấp các sản phẩm noi that hoa phat là nhà đại lý phân phối cấp 1 tại tp hồ chí minh được nhiều khách hàng tin dùng và chọn lựa. Hy vọng với thông tin trên quý khách có thể tự chọn mua cho mình mẫu bàn làm việc đúng như ý.

  6. your poem is in as many words...stunning


What do you think?