Nabina Das lives two lives, shuttling between USA and India. Her short stories have been published in Inner Voices, a contest-winning collection of fiction (Mirage Books, India), and The Cartier Street Review. A 2nd prize winner of an all-India Poetry Contest organized by HarperCollins-India and Open Space, her poems appear in Quay, Pirene’s Fountain, Shalla Magazine, Kritya, The Toronto Quarterly, The Cartier Street Review, Maintenant 3 (Three Rooms Press), Muse India, Danse Macabre, The Smoking Book anthology, Liberated Muse anthology, Mad Swirl and elsewhere. A poetry commentary and a poetry book review also appear in Kritya and The Cartier Street Review respectively. A 2007 Joan Jakobson fiction scholar from Wesleyan Writers’ Conference, and a 2007 Julio Lobo fiction scholar from Lesley Writers’ Conference, Nabina was Assistant Metro Editor with The Ithaca Journal, Ithaca, NY, and has worked as a journalist and media person in India for about 10 years in places as diverse as Tehelka.com, Down To Earth environmental magazine, Confederation of Indian Industries, National Foundation for India and The Sentinel newspaper. She has published several articles, commentaries and essays during her tenures. An M.A. in Linguistics from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, her other interests are theater and music. Formally trained in India classical music, she has performed in radio and TV programs and acted in street theater productions in India. She blogs at www.fleuve-souterrain.blogspot.com and freelances when not writing.
The first sound uttered is always forgotten
Possibly it is never even a word. Just
An interjection that derives from faraway
Fears or an anxious rhythm of speech.
The first sound can be heard quite clear
When groans and grunts are taken care
Of with mighty sweep of authorized
Hands that also stifle songs and smiles.
If you were a baby or a doddering pair
Of legs, your first word would be despair
Not a calligrapher’s delight in dusky ink
Blinking away in the heliotrope night.
In one little fable the first letter was
Meant to be the first word of wonder
But no one wrote it down and so later
The ocean took it with fish and dead matter.
Living Room Homily
Women talking in high voice
An indolent afternoon in the library
– All that glides up to whisper:
How we love life
After poems are read
Blood is spilled
Bee stings are removed
From unresponsive arms
We can measure up to reality
As though it’s a challenge
We can read minds
As though it’s an ancient art, revived
Furry dogs bustling
Smothering fleur du soir
A fleeting glance after remembrance
– Nothing that stops enchantment,
To say we love life
After you come back home
Hobble in the pantry
After newsprint withers
Becomes compost in the bin
I can clamour under the bright light
Straighten my pleats and scarf
I can wake up before dawn
As though night never came.