Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

Uru Habba for the Red Soil (Nrityagram)

Uru Habba for the Red Soil (Nrityagram)

Nabina Das

No one talks lonely here, no one does
No one who sits among disembodied mike voices
Faint café cheese smell, the sky filtering
Through the glass ends of vastness. No one
Sits talking lonely like her, brown and quivering
Senses in flight. Eyes all part fluorescent part
Daylight.

To the red soil of coiled fists.

*

She does not talk only
Of dry crop stalks where field rats keep
Their gentle paws in reminiscence
Of the juice in the stalks
Also of the hands of women and men
Who tilled and slept in eternal pain
Got no grains of their dreams nor brine
She sees them
Shadows on the stricken cheeks of the earth
Spread out for barren miles
Where bright red flowers announce their scheme
Of couplets blooming strong, only
For those that pine for rice and rhyme.

Uru habba, they call it
When the night’s dew becomes thirst-quencher
For those that pine for rice and rhyme.

Of the red soil of coiled fists.

*

And when it gets lonely
For bats hanging in papaya fields

She looks back at the slick roads of cities
Like a century that knows its wounds.

Uru habba, they call it
When the festive garment is tattered to stitch up dreams
For those that pine for rice and rhyme.

Of the red soil of coiled fists.

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Nabina Das began her literary career with the novel Footprints in the Bajra. Her poetry collection Into the Migrant City (Writer’s Workshop) is forthcoming. Other book publications include Blue Vessel (La Zaporogue) and The House of Twining Roses: Stories of the Mapped and the Unmapped (LiFi Publications). She is the winner of several writing residencies and fellowships and is trained in Indian classical music.

Nabina Das