by Rumjhum Biswas
This is not the season to be alone.
Elements in the air react against skin and heart.
Those soft inner parts that you hid all winter.
It is dangerous to be alone in March.
You can never tell what your eyes will reveal
to a complete stranger at the bus stop or bazaar. Or up the stairs
on your way to the solicitors’ office – what were you doing there
in the first place? This is not the season for lawsuits.
March is not even a season.
March is a licentious beast.
A surreptitious and stealthy time
in the name of such wild feasts
of colours and scents that within your heart
a frantic dove beats its wings and outside
the boney serrated walls, unchained ones caterwaul
calling out to all the unclenched spirits
rising up to kiss the full March Moon.
Intellect is brought down to its knobby knees.
Sagacity, caught brooding
between newly un-muffed ears, is doused.
There is much mischief afoot.
For who really knows what spirits will rule
over this flesh that lies fallen, like an over-ripe autumnal fruit?
Madness marches on scattering tidings as yellow as pollen.
Beware! Should you sniff that heady snuff, you will go
wandering. That timid dove within you will
to your surprise, let out a lusty cry.
Satin sheens of sunlit air will tear
scattering lucent dementia everywhere,
beating wild bacchanalian rhythm. Oh no!
Nothing does or ever will makes sense, in March!
Nothing at all, except the moth balls
that you have begun to tuck
inside quilts still smelling of eggnog and cake crumbs
and a whiff of that something that you
had promised yourself at the end of the year.
But, even that is not enough for March
in whose unrelenting grasp
your body becomes a chalice, overflowing.
Oh, so sweetly overflowing, in March!
(“March” was originally published in A Little Poetry and is reprinted here today with permission from the poet.)
Rumjhum Biswas has been published in countries in all the five continents in both online and print journals and anthologies. One of her poems was long listed in the Bridport Poetry Prize 2006 and is also a finalist in the 2010 Aesthetica Creative Arts Contest. She has won prizes in poetry contests in India. Her poem “March” was commended in the Writelinks’ Spring Fever Competition, 2008. Her story “Ahalya’s Valhalla” was among Story South’s Million Writers’ notable stories of 2007. Her poem “Bones” has been nominated for a 2010 Pushcart by Cha: An Asian Literary Journal. She was a participating poet in the 2008 Prakriti Foundation Poetry Festival in Chennai. She was a featured poet during the Poetry Slam organized jointly by the US Consul General, Chennai and The Prakriti Foundation in December 2009. In December 2010 she was a participating poet at the first Hyderabad Literary Festival organized by Osmania University and Muse India.
Editor’s Note: “March is not even a season. / March is a licentious beast.” It is evident to me that Rumjhum Biswas resides in a place that has seasons. Living out my first full year in New York, I am for the first time aware of the painful end of winter that is March. Here it is, officially spring, but the wind does not listen, the rain does not listen, the snow, sometimes, even, does not listen. There is no longer month than March; its 31 days dragging on achingly, the promise of warmth around a corner that is perpetually out of reach. Today’s poem caught my eye and my heart because the poet has captured the spirit of this dreadful month in the way only a poet can. This is the anthem of March! March, a month-long “unrelenting grasp” harsh against the “soft inner parts that you hid all winter.” Today, for Rumjhum Biswas and for my fellow New Yorkers I say Farewell March! Welcome April, welcome warmth and sun and life!