Sumana Roy

Eating Light

The harvest of appearance is our first toy.
I look at the infant and wonder –
How might a fallen fruit look at the parent tree?
Our faces are candles, light always a newborn.
The loneliness of light, of spies of beauty –
the museums inside our eyes,
the breastless trees inside them.
Where do their shadows live at night?

Trees – only trees – know that light has corners.
Our eyes are sandpaper, they blunt the edges of memory.
The world is a green room.
When I emerge out of it as a tree,
my body moves like a wrapped gift.
And I stand still, confusing bones for branches.

I imagine transparent trees.
Tree shadows are Russian dolls, hiding the plural.
I hid inside a shadow once, like animals do inside trees.
Imagine a painter hiding inside his canvas.
I was once that artist of shadows.
Darkness left me comatose.
This hunger for light, this for becoming tree.
When a sapling grows, so does its shadow.

My palm evens out everything –
cloth, soil, skin, hair.
So everything carries the weight of my hand,
everything except the tree and its accidents.
Night, I learn, is for shadows to renew their glue.
Trees do not need thermometers of privacy.
This retreat into themselves,
away from light’s masturbation.
I rub my eyes, I’m wiping away what I just imagined –
sex between a shadow and a tree inhabitant.
When I close my eyes to see, again, to repeat the fishnet dream,
I only see a “No Parking” sign beside a tree’s shadow.

Fasting Without Light

Every morning when you meet your shadows
you recognise them as long lost relatives.
You notice how they too are touched by the sun’s contagion.
You look at the shadows of trees climbing walls
and feel united with their rejection of goodbyes –
neither of you organises a daily funeral for sunlight.
You see the sunlight invading the field
and the grass losing its seams, its stitches.
Sunlight is more slippery than shadows,
its constancy only an illusion.
You’ve noticed it, like the trees,
you know about its urge to settle down, to find a home.

Darkness lives in inkpots, where does sunlight stay?
But you know that sunlight can be blind too –
it cannot see fractures in branches and bones.
You’ve seen it all – how sunlight makes of every plant its doll
and how darkness is a long lullaby.
All around you are the beggarly fields, scattered alms of sunlight,
the faraway moss wounded by the sun’s absence in corners.
Nothing happens soundlessly –
even cream forms on milk with some sound.
And you thought tree shadows were voiceless labourers?
Something must bubble inside us – that is life.
Sap on bark, foam at the mouth; but the sweat on shadows?

The day grows old, poetry pickles in moonlight.
The tree roots end their daily pilgrimage,
the chorus of grass rebels against fonts of tidiness,
and the tree rests, at last, with its dead shadow.