Summer 1983 • Vol. V No. 3 Poetry |

The Captive Air of Chandipur

Every day, the ancient sea at Chandipur spits out the gauze wings of shells along the beach and rumples the air behind the burnt sands. Who can tell us of the songs of this sea that continue to bewilder us and double the space around our lives? Or of the smells paralyzed through the centuries, of deltas hard and white that stretched once to ensnare the feet of women bidding their men good-bye? Or of salt and light that dark and insolent eyes demanded, their shoulders languishing like lotuses in the noonday sun? But what is it now that ravages the tide in the shadow of this noble watercourse? The disdain of the dead? Archaic sails still whisper of tales on the horizon: who are you, occupant of the silent kingdom of the conch? The place looks empty now; and as we wait for the tide to flood the mud flats the song that reaches our ears is only our own, the cries of fishermen come drifting through the spray into the music of what the world has slowly lost.

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Author of sixteen collections of poetry, Jayanta Mahapatra’s latest volume is titled Bare Face. He has read his poetry around the world and is widely anthologized. He edits the literary periodical Chandrabhaga. His recent work has appeared in the Sewanee Review.

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