The Hunted Ones

By Abul Kalam Azad


(For Teesta and Kalburgi)

A forest,
in cruel unrest.

Saffron horned cows
rage from dead rainbows
beneath the sky

burning the nests of pigeons
hiding in the womb of love

charred wings float mid-air
like missives of mourning
from the poets of the past

with fangs shaped like spears,
like trishuls cloaked in court orders
sneak through open doors

stinging sharp
the eyes of rats
armed only with words,
and the slogans of the weak,
those fragile weapons of dying armies

with patriarchal paws,
mark their power
over the bodies
of the deers
with the tyranny of their teeth

over the lives of their kids
snatched before conceived

rusting leaves of the autumn
weeping in the flames of dead foetuses,

those tears might wash away
at least,
the memories of these wounds . . .

A forest,
in cruel unrest.

who shall recite these tales we detest?
who shall carry the skeletons in this closet?

whose lids shall bear
the dream of justice on this sleepless night?

whose palms shall nurse
the fallen roses of departed gardens?

some leaves,
scattered across forests,
drag these tears in their veins
smear their faces with the ashes

the ashes
dispersed in the dust
of lands that learnt to forget

leaves that move
towards the warmth of moonlight
under the shadows of this clouded plight

leaves that row
towards the islands of hope
on this lonely boat

the hunter knows
hope is a dangerous tool
in the hands of the hungry
and the poor

he stretches the bow
tightened by fingers of the few,
of law,
and order.
(disordered laws
of unlawful orders)

the arrow sharpens its steely gaze,
tumbling through the stairs of the breeze,
stabs the weakest link in the chain,
the moist spot of the boat.

waves of the ocean
seep, like pus, into the wounds
of the hunted ones

the leaves shaking
from wave to wave
from wound to wound

with their final breath,
this sinking boat

the hunter rests on the shore,
throwing stones into the tranquil sea

while the ripples surge
through the backbones,
bent and quaint,
of the silent fish

the hunted ones,
few dead,
fewer living,

leaf after leaf…

this never ending grief!

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