Culture & Society

Poems: Of Tenants Living Inside Us — Grief, Longing And Love

The poems in Sayan Aich Bhowmik’s collection, ‘I Will Come With A Lighthouse,’ reflect on the crisis of the soul and acknowledge the translated nature of our lives.


Of tenants living inside us — grief, longing and love.

Radius of Grief

Long before there were
Park benches
Where some carved their names
And some their date of birth,
Tired men and women
Sat on my eyelashes 
Before they returned home.
The road was the length
Between an unfinished story
And an unwritten one.
One always took the last bus
To reach home on time.
The night stood guard at the door
The stars jangling with the keys.
These tired men and women
Who often argued with mirrors
Swung across two ends of a compass
Measuring each other’s
Radius of grief.

The New Tenant

My poem came back today.
Sat outside the door
And waited for me to return from work.
I offered her tea
And washed the tired conjunctions
Between the words, and straightened
The spaces that were beginning
To crack in winter.
Made the bed
Turned on a blue night lamp
And closed the door.
As she slept
I went to my room
And put away the poem 
I was working on since yesterday.
She is tired, it hasn’t been her day.
She doesn’t need me to remind her
That there is a new tenant
Leasing her corner.



I catch your voice
While switching
Radio stations.
In that brief moment
The sun enters my room
Like one who is sure
Of finding his favourite chair vacant
In a cafe.
Someone lights an incense stick
Two floors down.
The curtains give way
To allow the cat outside
A view of my desk.
Your voice...
That brief instant...
And everything is
As it should be.


Hour of the raspberries. Shutterstock

This is the “hour of the raspberries”
An hour they hardly mention
In December.
This is the hour
When oldest heart
In the city
Will sit by the window
And watch the light
Pounce upon the shadow.
I sit on the tip of a really slow
Second’s hand
And travel along the lines of 
My city’s longitude of lack.
Only the tired have their flags
The colour of a confused sky.
While the enterprising
With their secrets
In pockets
Take to the smoke from 
Burning leaves
And etch the names of cities
They want to see burning.


Fabric of Longing

They told me
About the time 
When there was ash
All across your room.
The lights in your apartment
Were stars from another time
Which waited for the right fingers
To squeeze the nights
Out of them.
But you’ve never let them write to you
You kept changing houses
And the stars
Like frustrated postmen
Have wandered between cities,
And sprinkled tired dust
That people have called the rain.
I followed the trail that they 
Left behind
My feet stepping softly
On the fabric of longing
Stitched with spider webs
That dream in abandoned houses.
So softly
You wouldn't hear me
Walk into your room
And touch you lightly on your shoulder
While you are by the window
With your back to the world.

In Our Names

Such porcelain nights
Stand side by side
Waiting for you to pour from
A discarded inkpot.
In the kitchen, the kettle sighs
Like a train’s whistle
And the dogs outside
Gather under the shadow of the moon.
They would bark softer
If only they understood
The texture of longing
That moves from me to you.
The tenants who lived
Inside us, have found new pin codes.
In their names, letters arrive.
In our names, the rain. 

(Sayan Aich Bhowmik is currently Assistant Professor in the Department of English, Shirakole College and the author of ‘I Will Come With A Lighthouse’ ( Hawakal Publishers))