Two Poems

A fiery sunset pauses before dipping below the ocean's horizon
Photo: Kordula Vahle/Pixabay


Granaries as long 
and winding as
the shores from
which we look 
at the lit ocean, behind
us the fertile land, rivers
coming to this sea, silt
behind us thousands 
of years
the vertebrae compressed
the spine bending  
forward forever
behind us
offerings of fire held
in falcons with outstretched 
wings, built brick by brick*
abandoned, vanished 
in unpredictable encounters
before us rusted barges 
the daily fragrance
of spices in oil
a fatigued infinity of sea and sky 
what can I 
go toward?
remote acts 
fires kindled on
empty clearings, sloping
toward the east
chanted word
vigilant thought
astral distance wedged 
in the spinal cord
behind us a broad land grown
at its very end


Alluvial broadness
bearing great river plains
spreading in the slow
thoughts of animals
that graze converging
in the perfect speed
of the predator’s
chase beginning at
each instant
this ancient of days
at every moment
the universe at stake
broadness flooding plains
the river’s wide mouth
repeating what is always

* A reference to the ancient Indian agnicayana ceremony in which bricks were used to build a huge falcon on the ground. A fire was then lit on it to make an offering to the gods.

Sharmistha Mohanty is the author of three works of fiction: Book One, New Life, and Five Movements in Praise. Her most recent work is a collection of poems, The Gods Came Afterwards, from which these poems are taken. She is founder-editor of the online journal Almost Island.