My World

by  J. P. Das

J.P. Das

My small world
lies suspended between
the four walls of your house.
There is no entry sign,
yet my life, leashed to it,
keeps moving endless 
round and round.

From wherever I start
I reach your house, 
sure as death,
as though all roads lead
to this single destination.

It’s easy to find it –
on the front lawn
winter sleeps at noon
as the spotless day
dries in the sun
like your cast-off sari.
Your pet clouds lounge
high up on the roof.

In the night,
the house is snow-clad
in mysteries.
Moonlight peeps out
through the open window,
and I know
when the other window opens,
there will be sunshine.

From my lookout
I fix my eyes on the house
and invoke you
in the ultimate measure
of my meditation.
My prayers stop at the edges 
of your unmade bed,
wet memories overflow my senses;
a taste of the sea assails me;
my consciousness becomes a dream
and loses all its reason.

I see blazing heaps of sand,
and your body seething
in the sultry summer heat,
I see a storm gather
and pass over the desert,
and then I see
your disheveled sari
lying forlorn
along your undulating shores.

I see you through my many
states and aberrations – 
you are the sum total
of my entire life,
its beginning, middle, and end;
the three measures of time
and the four directions;
and five elements, the six seasons,
and the seven heavens;
the ten misfortunes
and the fourteen worlds.

Your house is all I have,
moveable or immoveable,
and I know I am destined,
like an accursed soul,
to circle it round and round
now and forever.

Translation from the Oriya 
By the poet with Paul St-Pierre

Dr. J. P. (Jagannath Prasad) Das (b. 1936) is a well-known Oriya poet, playwright, and fiction writer. Most of his works have been translated into English and other Indian languages, and his plays have been staged in many languages all over India. He is the recipient of many awards, including the Saraswati Samman. A noted art historian, he has published several books on Orissan art.