Many hats have tipped on this shore.
It roared on the night of gold
It purred on the glimmer of sand
On the nights that salt laughs buoyed about.
Paint slick on the decks
Tar on the fingers.
Our friends gave us gold and silver
Took from us salt and silk.
We smelt them close
Before they went out.
The silks of our bosoms.
The bosoms of our women
Scented and pink.
Well, not quite,
but nice on warm nights by the jetty
on wet wood and tar hands
on wet lips and knotted hair
our legs knotted.
Moongphali was wet now
No fun when it’s wet like that.
On salt evenings, she un-knotted
unfurled and sailed.
Sumatra, canton and lisbon – they said.
We sold moongphali on the ferry
to the city.
And sang songs to foreigners and
Children with ponytails and waistpouches.
We sang to them for salt and silk
Silk we smell in our mosquito-nets on salt nights.
It is all so sad – they say – this history.
It is, we say, and show them the postcards.
Atreyee Majumder teaches sociology/anthropology at National Law School of India University. Her poems have been published in the Cafe Dissensus Blog, the Sunflower Collective Blog, the Bombay Review, and the RIC Journal. Her current research and preoccupation concerns the contemplation of Krishna-devotion in Vrindavan.