Pragya Vishnoi
Small Consolations



There's another kind of beauty
that fills the in-between.
There's dawn light where silence was.
There are hands of women — wrinkled and
cupping ghost moons from the river
and spilling them back.
Their bodies — half river gleam
like a language rubbed raw.
Every devotion is a face
truth wears when it marries beauty.
The sound of the river
is bluer at this hour and
the sound of temple bells
offers no apology
for lack of translation.
A stone calls another water
and the water does not speak.
We are visitors in our bodies,
but, here, we are the natives.
The wind collects prayers
in its cupped hands
and scatters them back into the river.

          Reading Tagore in Autumn

These days I have stopped
leaving a bucket under the bed
to hold cold dreamscapes dripping off the
     white sheets.
Wandering among autumn moons,
I am Suman, telling everyone who'd listen,
that loving is an act of lighting a candle,
and then waiting for extinguishment as you
     catch the flame
like a moonburnt seeking the eclipse.

Having just discovered that every man was a
     woman once,
you watch the songs hardened from July heat
once again fly across the moondark river.
It is the season of new endings,
and, like Binodini, my lips part
to drink the dark glow of the mountains,
the sound of railway engines
grow into the first note of a hymn,
and a petal of smoke, shaped like a wailing,
pulls itself from my lips.

In the softness of sapphire shadows,
together we see Charu holding dusk like rains
and a burning flickers
in my body turning to bones,
the heat echoing in the valleys of Amar Porano
     Jaha Chai...
As our breathing slows down to desire
     residued, with me dismantled
and rearranged again and again,
pieces of me fly out of your reach
like time shoots out in all axes of the Cartesian
Slipping out of you, I reclaim I-less-ness
like Mrinmoyee abandoning her conjugal bed,
pulling herself far from a husband, far from
towards everything ungendered.

Every morning is an idiom
in a language I can't read,
but I've learnt from Lathika,
that we can only love
those who don't linger long.
In a matrix fogged with fallen leaves,
I see the light disappearing at my feet
and you are relieved, glad even,
because in the end,
we're all fine autumn rains.


I was in love with a man once.

At night: the sweetness of flesh.
At day: the ambition of spirit.

He left the cottage everyday when dawn
     tiptoed its way between us.
I kept lying on the cold bed, not pretending
     to sleep,
listening to the absence of sounds I was
     familiar with.

Such silence,
such light:
I slipped into moccasins and walked towards
     the kitchen
to make tea.

Sometimes I watched from window
rain standing dazed in front of our door.
Sometimes I opened the door.
Sometimes I didn't.
The spirit of rain
and the spirit of hers sometimes added up
to make more silence.
I was learning love then
as water learns its cold.

A knock on the door:
This time it wasn't rain.
The silence was bluer when I kissed his
     cold brow.
Any more light
and the air would split into day moons.
He told me about cows half-merged in pond
and the mating of wheat fields
with the blueness of skies.

He always skipped telling about the rain
with its dark wetness.
He dozed off talking, one side of his face
resting on his arm,
leaving me to ponder upon our inevitable
     small deaths
like a pile of leaves burning at the foot of
     these hills.

betweenthehighway CCLA 0.4
visible and invisible
streets meet