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The Country and the City

I saw a woman in the queue - 

Her sleeve cut out for the scorch,

Her armpit shaved out for the scorch;

Yet the bulge disobeyed the hem

Yet the stubble disobeyed the razor

Brazen. Bronze. Brass. Brash. Blasé.

Like my unapologetic city.

I saw a woman by the country road

Sagged, shrivelled, scalloped, calloused,

Striding home after her roadside ablutions: 

The length and breadth of

Her red chequered threadbare wipe,

Distributed with an experienced hand:

One half tousled 

Round her washed straggling greys,

To wring out the wetness 

That even the sun cannot reach,

The other half

Fanned out across her bosom

Just short of her midriff 

Where the worn out yards of cotton

Drape her middle 

Just short of her knees.

Yet her curls disobeyed the bind.

Yet her bosom disobeyed the hem.

Bronzed. Unblushing. 

Like my countryside

Accustomed to invisibility.

17 April 2019

The Flȃneuse

Flanks of shanties -

Cabinet of curiosities

And nourishings

For eyes and mouths 


By level means - 

In gritty blue tarpaulin

Draped over

Grimy planks of ply

Like the mother’s 


Wraparound of a sari -

Censor and censure

The aesthete

Who dares linger 

And gaze higher 

For glimpses of

Concrete poetry

That too have weathered time.

It’s for the best perhaps - 

This coercion 

To look forward

And find new flanks

Up the highway 

To build new dreams 

In concrete colour.

28 June 2019

Foetal Position

The rickshaw puller 

Is fast asleep 

Like a pupa,

In his rickety cocoon.

The city is our matriarch 

Ever ready

With surrogate cribs

That nestle her toiling fosters -

Pullers, pushers, 

Peddlers, porters -

Rehearsing for

The flattened mounting 

On the humble hearse.

25 June 2019

Ananya Dutta Gupta has been teaching at the Department of English & Other Modern European Languages, Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan, for over eighteen years now. In 1999, she was awarded a Felix Scholarship to pursue an M.Phil. in English Literature, 1500-1660 at the University of Oxford. In January 2014, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, awarded her a Ph.D. degree for her dissertation on Renaissance English representations of the city under siege. Her revised Orient Blackswan Annotated edition of Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, Book I (2012) is currently in worldwide circulation and she has several other scholarly articles published in national and international journals to her credit. She was Charles Wallace India Trust Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Cambridge, in 2015. She has also published book reviews and translations of essays, poetry and short stories. Her creative non-fiction, travel writing and, more recently, self-illustrated poetry may be found online at Muse India, Rupkatha Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, Cafe Dissensus, Caesurae, Pratilipi and Coldnoon Travel Poetics. Her most recent published translation is a short story by Jaya Goiala in Dalit Lekhika, edited by Kalyani Thakur Charal and Sayantan Dasgupta (Kolkata: Stree-Samya, 2020). She has just published a bilingual, illustrated book of anecdotes about childhood titled Abhi Buli: The Diary of a Quipster Boy (Kolkata: Parchment, 2021). Her first book of poems is due any moment now.              

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