Read Poem: CALCUTTA 1964…, by Urmila Mahajan

POETRY FESTIVAL. Submit to site for FREE. Submit for actor performance. Submit poem to be made into film.

When heavy trams whirred and purred
on noisy rails, like giant beetles
congregating in dry shade
during the rain—
when rickshaws were drawn by men
whose muscles rippled, strained
rained large drops of sweat and
seated ladies modishly dressed
or other burdens disproportionate—
when buses roared dire protest
stuffed with human cargo
stacked, pressed,
leaning dangerously low

A child of five years, not more
a girl with leaping, shiny hair
and protuberant teeth
I must admit—
was driven down
a pothole spotted street
where ancient houses met
Crooked, ancient houses
dilapidated, crooked, ancient houses
crowding, merging, surging uneven
like teeth in an old man’s jaw
chipped and stained with betel juice

This is what I saw

She drifted up the stairs
trailed by her family—
the youngest breath of air
in an old, old house
to uphold the weekly ritual
of meeting grandparents

A soft light was cast by mellow…

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