From Artful Dodge 46/47: Three Bengali Women Poets of Kolkata
Debarati Mitra (translated from the Bengali by Carolyne Wright with Paramita Banerjee
1. The Young Man's Bath
Clattering down the dilapidated steps
the boy has gone to take his bath.
Some instrument plays in the highland passageway,
from the uterine interior of the trees
colored sparks of fire fly up, showering
into the fountain.
He rolls down shivering in the current
a bow's luminous taut string.
Enchanted youthful water comes flying
and shatters him,
carries him off in fragments
like the white stones' natural handiwork.
One of the sleeping thighs
pulls the distant mountain's birthplace
into the stunned womb.
Sloth and the memory of that sun mingle
with the clouds of deep forests covered with leaves.
2. The Absolute Artist
From the lotus pond's edge, the calming lake,
he brought clay.
Straining drop by drop the Subarnarekha's stream
he fashioned that festival's idol.
On the fast-flowing Ganga's bank,
alone, he dug into the breast of the earth
toward the primitive red-hued god
whose distant myths are heard in the blood,
Fleeing deliberately, in silence,
from the think of things,
infatuated with hell's bitterest enchantments,
he immersed himself
and brought up thick muddy silt.
Or else he looked on astonished as
the casts of hot soft wax were hardening
and his mother's flawless lover's face
came into form in his hands.
Sweating from head to foot,
did he sort out metals the color of stone
and bring them up from the blind quarry
to make puppets with excessive care?
After two million years, meteors shower
unearthly fire of stone onto the roof -----
like the artist's greatest masterpiece
there's no space for any more creation in his work.
The artist owes no explanations;
why should he?