Jayanta Mahapatra
A Kind of Happiness

The boat I’ve laid my mind on
is adrift, moving slowly up an ageless creek,
through water still and colourless as time,
among drifts of uncomprehending silent reeds.

In it I’ve staked those my precious years,
the fear of the depths and the unholy cold;
now for that reason maybe (being so awake)
I fear it may never reach the promise of the sea.

There is a hand I remember, that lay simply
in your lap, warm and sacred and drenched
with its promise, a hair’s breadth away from my own,
yet some spell did not drop anchor, to lay mine on it,

barely escaping happiness I thought I knew of it,
but would I recognize it if it really came?
What use would it be if I’d tie the boat to a tree
and lie down in the heart of its demand?

It soaks into each song, words and the throats of birds
hoping such symbols would make up its definition,
yet can the good world
hold the flowing movement of fear in the mind?

Can slain men show the miracle of being alive?
Always it’s this boat that nails me to the water,
darkening its silent waste and flow,
the reeds merciless like those dead,
yet don’t I know it is better to leave the boat alone?
What would tell me at last where I belong?
The cracking keel, the bold green moss?