Books

Poems Of The Body

Nabina Das writes poems on the life amid wars and turmoil in the world.

Children look on as civil defence teams conduct rescue operations following an Israeli attack in Gaza Photo: Getty Images
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“GAZA-L 1”

‘…we walk on stones that once were a house’

—from a poem by Nadine Murtaja, a member of the Gaza Poets Society

Morning breaks. We walk on stones that once were a house.

Our hearts grieve, whither shelter? We slowly repair a house.

My city lights are charred fruits of autumn—lit by wars.

No one can eat them. Still we set the table, share a house.

How does a woman make the city her lover? Nights know:

to hide from raids and rapes, yes, we wear a house.

You write to me about your plundered homes, unpetalled.

The rubble in Manipur, Gaza, Kashmir—everywhere, a house.

Your legs stand frozen as overpass pillars. My eyes flow.

Flowers of concrete erupt; we mourn, oh my dear, a house!

Their Iron Dome, your khwabgaah, their bombs, your huts—

song by hope’s song, Navi, still we build, right here, a house.

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“GAZA-L 2”

Read—poetry as news of the day.

Hymnal rhymes: views of the day.

Tackle all sleight of hand. How?

Break down the ruse of the day.

Tell me, who beckons in verse?

Love! It is the muse of the day.

Let’s measure mirth. Here:

Scansion is the use of the day!

Chuck the tanks, drones, unpoems.

What’s your excuse of the day?

Let’s couplet! Heck, says Navi—

Make verses as coups of the day.

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“GAZA-L 3”

Time is both sinking roots, and forever trailing a body.

Sorrow’s geographies ask: what’s ailing? A body!

Remember Pieta? Mary cradling her bleeding son?

Times retold. They’ve gathered before nailing a body.

Still the morning woos—still grass—still soft touches—

The peace lily leaves its signs. Yes, I love sailing a body.

Dig the rubble, pull the buried out, breathe in them a song.

Stop. Stop anyone trespassing here for impaling a body!

Worldly shops are always ready: silver, gold, cold cash—

Wastes of wars or loss, they prosper from retailing a body.

Hush, but the body is tilism! A magic sabre! It wipes tears!

The beloved steers, so here, Navi, we’re hailing a body!

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(Nabina Das is a Hyderabad-based poet and writer)

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