Spring 1996 • Vol. XVIII No. 2 Poetry |

The Second Family

From the Bengali.    from Stress Series  In my dreams I have a family. My mistress is quite plump. We have a number of children. We are a needy family. In small rooms. No furniture other than pinri and mora. I tell them I'm in a hurry, Shankar Prasad, but they don't listen. They weave club-talk around me. Tea comes and then an omelet the color of rolled gold on a chipped plate. I joke endlessly, Shankar Prasad, which without the necessary encouragement I can't do anywhere else. They laugh. I laugh with them. And without thinking I grab the omelet with my teeth, hear at once the growl behind it. I push away the plate, say I'm not hungry, so the dream won't dissolve. The children scramble for the food. My mistress, busy with housework, turns to scold them. She is spreading a white sheet on the bed, I see it from the corner of my eye. Awake, I have a small family. As is the fashion. Well-off and peaceful. We and our neighbors are considerate and adult. There's plenty of eve

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