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A winter's tale

  • Published at 04:54 pm December 12th, 2018

A poem about winter in the villages of Bangladesh

(Translated by Carolyn Brown)

too much—what a cruel winter—it's dawn

eyes have slowly opened—look

a pair of mynahs are talking beak to beak,

wing to wing, beside this dirt-piled window

dew drips from the wild dhanicha leaves

there was once a boy, no elephant

in his elephant pen, no horse in his horse stall ...

he too set sail across calm skies and seas

on his cane raft—you know the rest of the story

piles of dust and straw over the course of eighty winters

one day bamboo leaves and grass blossoms nestle him

crying--so you've come back, child ... the plain white

sand-and-pebble shroud is unwrapped fold by fold

the green bier is spread out, painted with the faces

of day and night—sleepy eyes have closed

still he can see—after being bathed so tenderly

all around him golden and silver children are yawning

frozen stones thaw too—in the bright sunlight

[From This Path: Selected Poems of Mohammad Rafiq (Bengal Lights Books, 2018), translated by Carolyn Brown. Reprinted with permission.]