Image by Carsten Stalljohann

ROOTS

the madrigal, volume ii

Why we didn't go

by amlanjyoti goswami

Its difficult to know the face of sorrow.

The long lines on television

 

The getaway on the highway

Time barebacked, carrying a bundle, feet sore

 

In April heat, toes blistering, chapped with falling rain.

All headed somewhere, destination home.

 

But we were already there. We couldn’t just…leave

All we had, wasn’t much, but it was all.

 

To leave would leave us with nothing.

The kids too, their college and school.

 

They would do things different, they would do it differently.

Their life not ours.

 

So we stayed. There was hardly any money.

Two rotis a day. Sometimes dal. A little subzi.

 

Sometimes, we asked for a little more, to tide this over.

Shelter us till the next meal.

 

We waited for our sun to appear.

The wooden table where we ironed their clothes, covered our own dust.

 

The fire was unlit, when we returned.

Not even a dog crawled welcome

 

To see us back, at the job, pressing the crumpled shirt and sari

To an ironed perfection,

 

Rule bound, herded in

Beyond the fold and crease of life.

Amlanjyoti Goswami's recent collection of poems 'River Wedding' (Poetrywala) has been widely reviewed.  His poetry has been published in journals and anthologies around the world. A Best of the Net nominee, his poems have also appeared on street walls in Christchurch, exhibitions in Johannesburg, an e-gallery in Brighton and buses in Philadelphia. He has read in various places, including New York, Delhi and Boston. He grew up in Guwahati, Assam and lives in Delhi.