The morning is today: a sestina

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About Nabina

Nabina Das is a poet and writer born and brought up in Guwahati, Assam, and currently based in Hyderabad, Telangana. Her latest poetry collection Anima and the Narrative Limits is from Yoda Press. Her other poetry collections are Sanskarnama (Red River, 2017), Into the Migrant City (Writers Workshop, 2013), and Blue Vessel (Les Editions du Zaporogue, 2012).

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Her debut book is a novel titled Footprints in the Bajra (Cedar Books, 2010), and her short fiction volume is titled The House of Twining Roses: Stories of the Mapped and the Unmapped (LiFi Publications, 2014). Her first book of translations titled Arise out of the Lock: 50 Bangladeshi Women Poets in English (curated by Alam Khorshed, Chittagong) appeared in early 2022 from Balestier Press, UK.

A Rutgers-Camden MFA alumna, Nabina is the editor of WITNESS, The Red River Book of Poetry of Dissent (Red River, 2021), and co-editor of 40 under 40, an Anthology of Post-globalisation Poetry (Poetrywala, 2016). Nabina is a 2017 Sahapedia-UNESCO fellow, a 2012 Charles Wallace Creative Writing alumna (Stirling University, Scotland), a 2016 Commonwealth Writers features correspondent, a 2012 Sangam House, a 2011 NYS Summer Writers Institute, and a 2007 Wesleyan Writers Conference creative writing alumna.

The morning is today: a sestina

The postman brought all messages these days with a clot.
I waited long at my window thinking: really, but really?
Wasn’t it always some sort of a premonition of a strange mixing
of the heart’s ache with our blood’s tone eternally lilting and dulcet?
So, I open each packet carefully wrapped, imagining if it’s another trick:
Shahid’s country dwells in love but any moment there can be bad cess.

Once it falls apart we know, once there is a deep wide cess-
pool where ideas drown, the letters will lose crispness, turn a clot.
Who shall we write to of our despair and hurt? For my heart plays a trick
to convince me that Baramullah and Barpeta are the same, really.
The lanes from where you wave. Then all that remains is a dull and dulcet
ring of longing. Will I see you tonight on my screen, our tears mixing?

But the Internet is down and out, you say, tears and words mixing
and we count hours. We think of the sky, that wide berth sans any cess.
Thankful that there’s love in the little stamps-book we have, all dulcet
and heady with memory. We still can send letters, in our hearts’ clot
where our pen dip. It’s still Faiz’s dream morning, not night really,
you say. Oh yes, I know, my beloved! Just democracy playing a trick!

While we discuss dream and delirium we now don’t call it a trick.
Have you seen the newspaper this morning, I want to say, mixing
some caution because we want to cling close to love and light really,
gilted flush of seas, new leaves, summer mangoes – none with a cess.
All lush with our desire, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, a lull and a clot
so sweetly lumped in our days. Even sounds of police sirens seem dulcet!

Today, just today is our time. Our time to sing loud and set that dulcet
tone: Mujhse pehli see muhabbat mere mehboob na mang! Smash all trick-
sters in their face, wring out all pain, the combat boots, nurse the wound clot
and bring home the real and the virtual, the letters and kisses all mixing.
Do we care, do we really care if the state will clamp on happiness, put a cess,
steal our hard-earned money, shut our women in, kill all men? Do we, really?

Then come now, look how the stars shine on and be thankful really.
In the blinking blue of the screen, your face, the memory of your dulcet
voice that the ether carries singing the Jamaica Farewell. No cess
on our demands, dreams and destinations. We’ll unravel all sordid trick
from Kokrajhar to Konkan, the ballots and the pellets. No, no mixing
our sorrow with the lightstruck love we’ve caught with our passion’s clot.

The letters are on their way, signed with our blood’s clot,
          the horizon is rising ahead with summer swans heady with mixing
                    the wine of sun and our flight. Ours the magic wand, the winning trick.

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