Stone Telling

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by Ishita Basu Mallik

flood came by today, was looking for you
wiped feet useless on the mat, hands trembling
invited self to ek cup holey mondo hoy na
settled by the dining table, discreet in bespoke
silt shirt. debdaru leaves, listening, flinched

flood didn't say kintu bola no bola ak-i byapar
was left by you, was expelled, eyes drooping deep
into the skull, fingers pruned, was left high and dry
ministers visited affected areas, fish vaulted in trees
flood's gentle hand had tousled the map

flood understands about your mother, flood
had a mother, too, once, meltmouth polyglot,
damned if she did and dammed if she didn't,
amar obosthya-ta bujhte parchhen; flood cannot count
in single digits; flood's cracked serenade

i didn't have the heart to interrupt flood
watched flood fold into a raincoat of rain
and trickle down the kitchen window. sheshbesh
taake bollam na, how you've moved mountains
and still feel that tidemark on your throat.

Some lines and phrases in this poem are Romanised Bangla. For reference, the following translations have been provided by the poet.

ek cup holey mondo hoy na — I wouldn't mind a cup of tea
kintu bola no bola ak-i byapar — but it doesn't make a difference if it's said out loud or not
amar obosthya-ta bujhte parchhen — you realise my situation
sheshbesh taake bollam na — in the end I didn't tell hir

Ishita Basu Mallik lives in India, takes care of her parents and tries to hang on to her day job. She can be reached at low tide or at ishita.ityadi at

Read Ishita's discussion of this poem over at the Roundtable!

Photography: Grandmother by Seyyedeh Ghazaleh Ghazanfari.