Manash Firaq Bhattacharjee

The Air Has Cleared


The air has cleared today,
Over the city, and in my head,
I see the trees breathe
The invisible greenness of air,
I feel the taste of sunlight
On my hungry face,
I don’t remember the day
I was born,
But I will remember this day,
When the air cleared,
After days of foggy thoughts,
A bastard of a week,
“Time is a fucking bastard”
Wrote Carlos Fuentes,
And he was right, not people,
Time is the bastard,
It is always looking to
Tear us off from everything,
From days of love,
Nights of bitter forgetting,
From gestures,
Whose meanings we hid
Even from ourselves,
From faces
We were scared to touch,
Time, the bastard,
Scared us of consequences,
And we, with memories
Of defeated shadows,
We gave in, we failed to bring
Our hands of blood
To warm a face,
And it lingered, it lingers
With our steps, on roads Amichai
Called, “dark, flowing love”
We walk over them
Carrying the dead over our
We hide the sun in our back,
We who crushed
Many moons in our palms,
We become plotters
Of time, we plot against
Our defeats, naming others
For our neurosis,
Once upon a time, the bastard
Had a face and a name,
Of a god, lying on the amorous
Bed of a cobra, its hood
An umbrella of panoptic gaze,
Time kept guard on itself,
Love, watched by serpentine
Eyes, love is never alone,
Never allowed to be alone on earth
Or heaven, fruit or no fruit,
Tree or no tree, love was fated
To face vigil, its nakedness
Under the scrutiny of mirrors,
We only feign having eyes,
Blind children of time,
We don’t see the way we wait
For the one we love,
And those who do not see,
Do not welcome,
We do not welcome another
Body, the way the night
Welcomes the moon, the water
Welcomes the gazelle,
History is a triumph of the
Carnivore, not those
Eating animal flesh,
But those banished from home,
Those who banished Antigone
From the hearth,
We seek victory over time,
And pay for it with exile,
We lost the only thing we had
For what wasn’t ours,
We lost the beloved, Rilke said,
From the start,
The beloved who walks beside us,
One we do not see,
The air has cleared, marking
My hollow forehead
With a star, I am yet to name.


Manash Firaq Bhattacharjee is a poet, writer, translator and political science scholar. His poems have appeared in World Literature Today, Rattle, The London Magazine, New Welsh Review, Acumen, The Fortnightly Review, and others. His prose has appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Review of Books, Guernica, Outlook, The Hindu and The Wire. His first collection of poetry, Ghalib’s Tomb and Other Poems, was published by The London Magazine (November, 2013). His political nonfiction, Looking for the Nation: Towards Another Idea of India, was published by Speaking Tiger Books (August, 2018).

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