01 January 1970

Poems: Elegy Of An Origami Crow


Poems: Elegy Of An Origami Crow

Namrata Pathak writes poems on the revolting graffiti on a whitewashed wall, the slogans of free India in every youth’s cry.

Elegy of an Origami crow
Elegy of an Origami crow Shutterstock

Visitations on November Nights

The origami crow flaps its wings in November nights, 
swoops down to forage 
the listless pieces of my heart.
It plucks memories
from the night's eyes, 
the sharp claws dig deep 
into an insomniac's tale.

grow on the mossy surfaces 
of the ceiling,
cold now -
a lover's indifference. 

The winter moon spreads its body 
all over the place 
squeezing itself within the creases 
of a silent prayer.

Every night the papers turn 
into a jet black curse,
the crow-beaks tugging at my empty palms.
I have nothing to feed my feathered visitors,
only grief. 


Crows of Cinnamara

I have worn feathers before,
known the base of a convex sky, 
seen the hands of pepper-shoots
plucking the last mound of red from the evening sky.
The tall trees in the gardens split the taut clothesline of the sky,

The sky snaps,
shadows of innumerable crows tumble out,
flying in circles
at dawn,
flying in circles
at dusk. 
With every tear at its edges, the scavengers colour
the sky black, its hollowness 
later finds its way into Aai's ashen face: 
After every hunt the crows circle 
the stout mango tree 
near the veranda of my house
in search of some ominous news.
They swoop down to peck at the handful of 'bora saul'
aai throws on the porch.
For Aai, the grains are some stale afterthoughts.
They will grow roots one day.
But the crows? As the morning-end burns
like an incense stick in Aai's namghor, 
the soot gathers on the flapping wings of the birds.

Block prints on silky fabric.
Verbed air.
Black outcasts. 
Ghouls of the shadows. 
Their portentous 'caw caw's take the shape
of countless milky kathfulas* blooming
on the wet soil bed of Cinnamara 

Once I too became a listless crow
and knew the fear of living.

*Kathfulas: Assamese equivalent of mushrooms

An Unfinished Poem 

Patchy ink stains smudge the edges of the blank page.
They are eyes shut to the coldness 
of your touch,
your rugged fingertips.
This poem is born out of words that
fail us. It won't find a home in this world.
No one wrote it. The wayward pen did not
send any letters to burn in the furnace of your heart.

This poem will be a flame on your tongue,
a fire stoked by little Rynthamai’s hungry eyes,
a cuss word, his language of filth
travelling to unkempt places not known to your ears.

This poem is Kong Thei’s loneliness,
the crisp crunch of areca nuts, her stained
mouth rounding into a khublei*
in the misty Khasi hills.

This poem is a revolting graffiti
on a whitewashed wall, a slogan of free India
in every youth’s cry. A failure to douse the rebellion
of million hearts. A refusal to pluck moon flowers
from the veil of a joyless night.

This poem will find its way 
into the grief of the tree-woman, Tejimola**,
her pounded hands spread like fans of leaves into the sky,
the mangled legs bleeding rivulets of sorrow.

This poem is a flamboyant sun
on Ambai’s forhead in the distant Patkai, 
a widow’s aftertaste of charred truths,
her pact with death. 

This poem runs in capillaries of the turbulent Brahmaputra,
it hides million screams at the bosom of storms.
This poem is water.
Each drop a word.
Each word a slippery act of faithlessness. 

This poem is a song of a many-petalled love-rose
in Remdor's braids,
it awaits the homecoming of a betrayer.

This poem cries its heart out with Limbam,
raped at the borders of two states,
dying between water and land,
dream and hopelessness

This poem is an escapade
into a world that mirrors no world.
Only the journey remains, the pathways too:

This poem is a runaway school kid
making a paper boat out of the monotonous afternoon,
sailing it on a pool of mischievous clouds.

*Khublei: A kind of greeting in Khasi

**Tejimola: A popular Assamese folklore in Buri-Aair Hadhu by Lakshminath Bezbarua

(Namrata Pathak teaches in the department of English, North-Eastern Hill University, Tura, Meghalaya. Her debut collection of poems, That’s How Mirai Eats a Pomegranate, was brought out in 2018 by Red River.)