Nabina Das is a 2017 Sahapedia-UNESCO fellow, a 2012 Charles Wallace creative writing alumna (Stirling University), and a 2016 Commonwealth Writers Organisation feature correspondent. Born and brought up in Guwahati, Assam, Nabina's poetry collections are Sanskarnama (2017), Into the Migrant City (2013), and Blue Vessel (2012). Her first novel is Footprints in the Bajra (2010) , and her short fiction volume is titled The House of Twining Roses (2014). A 2012 Sangam House, a 2011 NYS Summer Writers Institute, and a 2007 Wesleyan Writers Conference alumna, Nabina writes and translates occasionally in English, Assamese and Bengali while her poetry has been translated into the Croatian, French, Bengali, Malayalam, and Urdu. A guest faculty at University of Hyderabad for Creative Writing, Nabina has worked in journalism and media for about 10 years, and is the co-editor of 40 under 40, an anthology of post-globalisation poetry (2016).
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Edible Geography of the Lover
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One day we
letters out of maps
our bodies given to pleasant follies
If you’ve been traveling long
you’d stop first at the isthmus of those arms
rest your hand there to sense any seismic start
hearts roasting — your spice, my flames
The birth mark by the temple, a place to start the fire
fingers measuring the grains in your cheek beard
your lips become tea tasters
you separate the pale from the strong
What of hair, fingertips, the small of the back exposed?
you eat cities, eat little townships, sometimes raw
add your breath to the weather every now and then
let the rivulets flow
save the smoothness of the forearm to be served
with the rest of the feast that waits
from seen fault-lines to unknown crevices —
tangerine, paddy blooming like flowers, grapes oozing warmth
A snack of the earlobes, and then down
the salty shoulder’s canyon
by the time you arrived at the hollow of the neck
you tell him you can taste chocolate
lots and lots of it
deep and dark
down the chest and while you part
the fine hair around the areola
you mouth the darker portions
and realize stunned —
no other black magic could do it for you!
Continue the trip and see
the great valley rise and fall at your hunger
your saliva gathered at the pool of the navel
the trench that dips around the soothing cool
a little honey, a little tart
thirst, so much thirst
and you drink on like the only person ever lost in a desert!
Along the slight rise of the peninsular hunches
you slip down, a clumsy traveler!
your cartography didn’t tell
about this surprise when
suddenly, still thirsting and parched
you find the fountain of life
swimming with fish —
no more words then!
Smooth ranges flank the magic nook
and you know how you also want bread
kneaded well with your own hands
forests with musk
mountain passes with saffron flowers
and rocks melting at a lick
and tongue-tasted camphor —
edible geography of the lover
once you reached the hinterland
you only want to move up again
again eat the landscape you just charted
remain a traveler of taste for all life
and you, lover woman —
you want more maps as food.
“Untitled” by Zainab Zulfiqar. 2018. Digital Photograph.