Poetry from Jahnavi Gogoi

Lost “again” in translation.

I am adrift again. In this country
The lilting accent of a brook

wrapped around my mahogany skin.
My idioms tumble down like unruly roots.

Dormant in the taciturn stillness
of phantom dreams.

A meditation upon love

People walk through a haboob to get past it. “Humongous”, my child’s
sibilant whisper hangs in the air for someone to retrieve it and carry
in their pocket. The hawkers screech like birds trapped in walls. I put
my fingers in my dead ears.

Once I had dipped my feet in gelid marble, my blush filled the sky with
tones of lilac. The sealed silence of the tomb had echoed so loud. Mouth
Agape, knees trembling, I listened.

I share a birthday with an empress. I had walked the gardens,
blue Polyester sticking to me like a second skin, henna marking
me till my elbows. Demure bride. Now vultures circle over my head
in anticipation of carrion.

There are red letter boxes outside disrupting the pristine alabaster.
It is a post office, they say. I look away, I was never here. One by
one, the sepia toned photographs disappear from the family album
with a broken spine.

A woman with a beehive on her head, saree draped artlessly over
a sleeveless blouse. A young man pretending to touch the spire,
an optical illusion. Father caught in an awkward moment
with a Yashica camera.

This is no longer a story about love at first sight. A forlorn princess
did not sit on a bench here in 1992.Poets never rhapsodized about its grandeur. We don’t know how it came into being.

The sun is in arrant mode; it burns holes in my heart. Tomorrow,
I’ll return and post a letter. Seeking solace in subterfuge for what
never was.


Haboob: A wind that brings sand from the desert native to Sudan.

You will disappear…

You will lose a lover and disappear off the face of the earth,
you will squirm in the therapist’s chair and not tell her where
you were.

It has been eight sessions and two hundred dollars for an hour
the seat is still warm from the person before you. An imprint left
on the beige upholstery is oddly comforting.

We are all drowning and the thought
makes you feel not so alone. You have not cried once.
For a whole week after his passing, you told Seema

about the folded shirt and black trousers, he left them on the bed.
He did not want to die, he had just slipped out into the night
for a breath of fresh air, perhaps he needed to clear his head.

You read books on reincarnation, about the afterlife, you meditate
your hair grows white, you wake up screaming even with the night
light on but you don’t shed tears.

Ordinary days can kill you, you have learned
luminous, filled with the chirping of birds, the
chittering of crickets. You will carry your

anguish into your New York apartment
in lieu of luggage, there are no elevators,
the man beneath is a doctor who sleeps during the day.

You hate him because doctors could not save your love, yet you don’t entertain friends with kids anymore. Children are loud and you are fragile like a handheld grenade.

You become a plant mother instead, you never weep,
you pamper your pots with filtered water. And one day there is an Orange

in a pot by the sill, a tree you had bought on a whim at the grocery store.
You marvel at how perfectly spherical it is, how orange
how it grew out of bereavement, you eat it peel and all.

It is sweet and tart and bitter; it bursts and melts on your tongue
and the salt finally pours from your eyes, it trickles past your lips.

A familiar gnawing to devour everything fills your being as you sob.
Your tears drown the whole building, then Manhattan, all of it
but you swim ashore in your aliveness.

Jahnavi Gogoi is a poet who grew up amidst insurgency in Assam, India and lived to tell the tale. She is a writer of children’s fiction and a mother to an assertive seven-year-old daughter. Her debut book of poetry ‘Things I told myself’ can be found on Amazon. Jahnavi now resides in Canada with her family in the picturesque town of Ajax. Her poetry has been published in Inssaei International journal, Academy of the Heart And Mind, Spillwords, Soul Connection by Guwahati Grand Poetry Festival, Mystic Aura magazine, Indian Periodical. She also has words in G plus, The Beacon webzine and others.


One thought on “Poetry from Jahnavi Gogoi

  1. Hauntingly beautiful poems. Evoking memories and emotions, tugging at heart strings and making you want to read more

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