Hibiscus – a poem by Kiriti Sengupta

I’ve to leave.
As long as I’m alive, 
I’ll clean the muck off the earth. 
My pledge to the newborn: 
I must make the world liveable for you. — Sukanta Bhattacharya*
The vow ceased with his death. 
The world expanded. 
They never missed a chance 
to cram her to misery. 
Can we be of help? 
Feed the earth water 
she flows in abundance. 
Allow the planet to breathe: 
the air is her consort. 
Free her from plastics—
they choke progress.
She endures the mess 
her wards make. 
Can I become a tree?
As I rampart the sinew 
with my root embedded 
in her tissue, I’ll bloom
like a hibiscus: 
the blush will endorse
my bloodline. 
Infestation ushers in
a day of buried majesty.
I wish the flower could turn 
into a coral basking in sunshine. 
Mother awaits the levitating saint.
*An excerpt from Bhattacharya’s celebrated Bengali poem “Charpatra” (“Certificate of Exemption”), published in 1947. Translation is mine (KS). 

Kiriti Sengupta is a poet, editor, translator, and publisher from Calcutta, India. He has been awarded the 2018 Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize for his contribution to literature. He has published eleven books of poetry and prose and two books of translation and co-edited six anthologies. Sengupta is the chief editor of the Ethos Literary Journal.

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