C.R. Park, Delhi: Winter

farmers

A girl walks on her house terrace

In the transient sunlight in winter

Talking to a bird.

On the border, an old peasant in the make-shift camp

Shivers in the wind’s chill.

A cloud climbs down to cover him with a white blanket.

 

The light green of the new-born leaves of a lemon tree

Asks the breeze to whistle a song

On the border peasants sing a harvest song in a chorus.

A woman boils tea in the song’s fire.

Her hair hides maize stalks.

 

At the gate of the SPM school, an old man

Stands guard to vacant classrooms.

Children’s laughter chokes in the rooms.

On the border a peasant recounts tales of Partition.

An old woman wails seeing blood flow

From his stories that unwind like his turban

 

In a corner of the maidan where they make tents for the Pooja

Darkness crouches waiting for the sunlight to vanish

A crow pecks at it until it bleeds.

On the border three poets read poetry in the peasants’ camp:

One in Urdu, one in Hindi and the third in Punjabi

When they freeze, all the languages look alike: an alphabet of chill.

 

Birds chirp looking for fruits

Fruits play hide-and-seek on the branches

Snow, amused, brings forth a cold laugh.

On the border a young man paints a banner in his own blood,

“PEASANTS’STRUGGLE:20TH DAY” and with it,

Covers his father, killed by the murderous chill.

Jesus, with his bleeding forehead, comes and sits among them

The dead peasant slowly raises his fist with its nail-marks

And his dead lips shout: ‘Jai Kisan. Inquilab..’

Others complete the slogan, ‘Zindabad! Hum dekhenge,

The struggle will not cease!’

 K. Satchidanandan is an eminent poet


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