Death and other litanies
by Debasis Mukhopadhyay
I want to go home, she said again, Home ... Home ... Home. Echoes brought paper cuts spinning in monochrome. The mist of Lima was then breaking open the ruby skin of crushed flowers lying on the morning roads and I picked up those scattered clumps thinking I would keep a log of your death. Then came the pigeons rolling with the silent waves of the soiled sea looking for my stray words. The shiny bits & chunks of laughter of school girls made me think that childhood was a glass jar now breaking into pieces of light. I sighed & smiled as their laughter spilled over. Walking past the park I heard one “I” saying to another “I”: “You”… “You”…. “You”…; so many “you”s and I could not even have the chance to call her You. I just happened to fall on my face hitting my head hard on the awaiting log of your fate.
The windswept pictures looked now under the darkroom safelight as amber as your father’s submerged hope. And there was light still clinging to the temporal scales of those pictures our immersed fingers were busy caressing under the stop bath of how-do-you-cope-with-it. Night in the alleys of Cusco does not spoil you with much sky than the narrowed eyes of your life. Did you ever know it when they handed you over to the good hands of hospice care? One afternoon, I can still see the sun was smiling over the pool of spilled cranberry flow as long as it didn’t find the blushing catheter bag hanging under your electric bed. I travelled with you as if just to keep a log of withering heights, damn, the more you laughed the more your eyes were what when the sky seeks the swan of mind. When I reached up to Machu Picchu, green was a better word for a desert of ruins, it had never meant hope.
“What is will”, you asked and the faces awaiting your will to will made a face. So you did ask again peering into their stare, “what is will without me”, and the hovering Hellenic faces could not see the fluttering wings of the butterflies you still could over the ruins. “But you…you are going to die … realize it now, will you Miss?” The white doctor draped in ocean blue came worried thrice a week to wake you up from your will to live. “I can’t… And how can I Doctor? The I is Another, but remains still the I. And so where is that You to whom I can say, the way you tell me, ‘You’re going to die of your own death’”? “Oh Miss, travel then, may be you can catch up with that missing You”, the echo filled the afternoon before fading into my log. You… You…. You… again many “you”s were casting their skin and I wondered now whether I could call her my missing you. “Tell me, is the mountain of seven colors really a seven color mountain”, you asked turning your head at me and I could hear the borborygmic geysers of red Altiplano rolling on the haze of what it is when it becomes a desert. “There ain’t no seven colors, no, no”, we all came out of the home of hospice care shaking our rumbling heads as though we were just upset with her quest for colors and not with her lust for life.
“But for the ocean of shadows of lake Titicaca where’s blue in this landlocked country”, I said showing you my pictures of the spinning clouds of silver over Copacabana. “True, no blue elsewhere in your ruby planet”, you said reeling with morphine & decadron, “but shadows keep wandering under those burning clouds, yes, I can imagine many of them chasing a fugue”. Your smile then unwound before me the falling shadows of the bombin hats of the Aymara & Quechua women and their ballads of russet dirt roads. “Mi Cholita”, said your Balkan friend locking you in her arms, “I can’t write your diary anymore. It aches to be tangled with all the ‘I’s of yours I transcribe in there. I become lonelier being with those ‘I’s of yours than I would be tomorrow without You. The more I perpetuate with my pen the words of your ‘I’s, the more I become like a blue shadow what the evening will recede into”. Shadow… Shadows of navigable sea of farness? What shadow when hope is so soiled in the body? I thought weaving the last words in the gloom of my log. Sun was filling the room then. In fact, sun was then making room for the shadow of hospice care. There was no blue in there either. Cinerarias alone were blooming as a prelude to the tolling bells of Poe in the scorching sun. “Sweetie”, you said to her in allegro agitato, “hold me, and hold me please close to the sun”.
Debasis Mukhopadhyay grew up in Calcutta, India and now lives in Montreal, Canada.He has a PhD in literary studies from Université Laval and extensive experience in language teaching & translation. He writes poetry in both Bengali & English. His debut collection of poetry in Bengali was published in 2005. His recent work has appeared and is forthcoming in Snapping Twig, Eunoia Review, and elsewhere.
Pieces Inspired by this Image
'The Barren Mother'
'Her Body, His Money, Their Child'