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Four Poems by Anjana Basu

The Emperor of China


The petals fall from the white china

Splashes of blue in the middle of all that whiteness

Surrounded by fragility

A cluster of cups in conference tinkling against each other

Each tinkle precise, executed by stiffness

Punctuated by the crook of a little finger

And at each crook a petal falls

Till cup by cup is bled of blue

Into an official pallor

Pared down to the ashes of bone

 The dead china emperor laid out 

Wide splayed

Draped in whiteness

In a gleaming hierarchy of silk and linen

Blue grief from his concubine’s eyes

Staining the floor unnoticed.


Sharmistha who bought the green umbrella

Went a while ago

Now the umbrella’s gone

Tired of opening and shutting

Through sun and shadow

The dusty leaves stripped their colour

And the fabric hung in tatters

Exposed to rain

Or to laser sun

A white hot lance

Scouring head and neck

The green withered 

And a flock of parrots 

Screamed for the heat of chillies

Against blue enamel

Good bye

The Gathering

Just a light muslin

Spattered with poetry and green splashes

in the middle of those sober cottons 

and the thick intellectual statements of hand weave

Stark blacks and blues for an evening

Garnished with tribal silver

This a no name fabric blown out of a summer afternoon

Carrying with it

The whisper of leaves

Surrounded by those shouts of me and I

A congregation of upside down umbrellas

And a world where simplicity

is lost in translation 

Lalgarh Umbrella 

A pink cocktail umbrella

Set down against the red earth

That the sun stains with blood in its rising

A pretty playful conceit to flirt with landmines

In big dark glasses diamante studded

At sunset the shadows turn blood to blackness

And the wind combs through the fingers of the martini parasol

Playfully, teasingly light games before death.

pink cocktail umbrella against the earth

Stained blood red by every rising sun

And dyed black again by night

A frivolous thing in the hands of a woman

Matched with black shades diamante spiked

Flashes smaller than landmine blasts

In that red stub of an explosive land

The cocktail umbrella floats over the shards of rocks

And the splintered lives

The wind combs it and tosses it here and there

A symbol, a statement  certainly feminine

Not bound to a short fuse or time warped

The bow men come one by one and bow to the umbrella

In a moment’s brevity


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