Corpses by the road

Susmita paul

They sleep

Along the river that is the road,

I keep watch from my third storey home in this small quiet town,

Across the soils that so many thousands must have walked

All those years in the past

Swell up

Bloodied chappals, strings sinking into the skin

Decorate my ramshackle conscience.

I walk by my five year old, into the shadow

Of the girl who cycled her peasant father back.

Bending backs, holding on,

Seeping soil, creeping by

Through my veins as I snub the cohort voices: lay low, spring is here.



The water bottle’s plastic refracting life 

Hangs from the shrivelled hand

The little legs dangling from his neck

: Shiva walking across modern day highways :

Creased t-shirt pasted to the zero-sized waist,

I look at his feet. The gap between the big toe and the toe next to it is

Red, blood red, burning. 

I extend my welcoming arms and invite –

Please sit down. Awkward words rumble down his mouth.

The legs are stretched into mountain rocks now. They can not 

Bend any more. He smiles as the little legs dangle from his neck.

My smile has solidified into mountain rocks now. Bitter

Aftertaste of privilege burns my tongue.



It sits, casually, sipping coffee from the mug, chipped at one corner. 

That is as much irremediable limitation this soul can handle.

Images of truths glide on unceremoniously like the feet

That must walk a hundred miles. The coffee gets cold as

The galaxies meet mid-way , caressing the obscure similarities 

Until they become alternate truths hiding behind each other

In an inordinate spiral of knowing and not-knowing. 

Brick on brick they had built the roots on which huge banyan trees father homes

And now they must seek the primordial path back to their wombs.

It’s womb is a void now, as is its soul that sees this Pangaea 

Float past in the arid blue sky of spring

Screams are silent birds chirping from nests brimming with 

Possibilities. The logic of the obscurity of the final chorus doesn’t reach this high.

Susmita Paul (b.1983). Indian bi-lingual writer. She is the winner of the second prize for the 50 cent Preis in the Grazer Poesieautomaten Project in Graz. Her works in Bengali and in English have been published in Kaurab, Tint Journal, Through the Looking Glass: Reflecting on Madness and Chaos Within, Saaranga, The New Amrita Bazar Patrika, Poetry and Covid, and others. She is the Editor-in-Chief of The Pine Cone Review. She is also a Zentangle-inspired artist. She lives in Austria with her husband and her son.

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