columns of leftovers decorate the hall
in a feast of waste.
At a distant corner of a street
a child begs a morsel to taste.
Garbage bins clang as dogs fight for rotten food
and the child looks on, falling asleep, hungry
on the promenade near a sweet street.
But there is a tree that bends protectively
over the half-naked child with tear-stained cheeks.
The burning sun slaps constantly as he cries
trailing behind his mother with a bucket on her head
the feeble little hands carry a pot too heavy
knowing there are miles ahead before neverland comes,
before starting again tomorrow.
She walks fast to reach the well, before others, before the water turns muddy.
She’s left her newborn with her ailing father
her breasts are hollow and dry.
The city sweats on its loins, shops’ awnings are down,
street-tar melts, yet a man trundles
ahead, with a cart.
Above, the sun boils in rage, yet he goes on;
ribs sticking out like hands, he licks his lips
passing a sweet- shop, jaws wide apart.
No stops till he’s done his job
of earning a day’s feed.
There’s cheer in highrise; from cool cars, elevators, halls,
no sweat but chilled glasses click cooling cooled bodies
spent in perfumed tubs and showers—–
raining for hours and hours, for bathing takes time
unlike a parched throat’s walking miles
for a single sip of a second.
Winter fires line the streets. It’s night.
A child huddles; tattered clothing
of a protective mother tries to cover.
Sky looks down, the moon sheds drops.
The cold rips the flesh off footpaths but we’ve nothing to fear.
Under roofed relief,
we cuddle in cozy beds, where heat hovers
Author of three publications and poetry, short stories in various other magazines. Published poems and short stories in Bengali and English. Published articles and essays in various magazines. Satabdi Saha is an ex- professor of English in D.A. College, Kolkata.