Sunday, November 13, 2016

Bagurumba Girl

She had green eyes that spoke
the nine languages of love.
Her lips, the soil of earth,
opened to hymns from above.

Her misty words were born
in the cold hills of Diphu.
They danced to sun-dipped songs
of love that silently grew.

Through lone valleys that dive
into meadows of green,
With every step she washed
the soul of the village clean.

One summer when the sun
was burning leaves a crimson red,
She stood at our front door
under a vine dangling shed.

They said her name was Noi.
She would be helping with chores—
cutting grass, feeding cows,
cleaning windows, shelves and doors.

Next day, when her chores were done,
we asked her to play hopscotch.
“I have no time,” she said
glancing at the mantel watch.

“But I’d like to show you something”
she said, leading us to the courtyard.

With a shawl across her shoulders,
she bent down on her bony knees.
Swaying her arms in circles,
a song quivered from her lips.

Under melting grey clouds,
Her dance traveled dark corridors.
It gushed against windows
in echoes and roars.

Days later I watched Noi
lost amidst kitchen clatter;
the sound of dish washing
drowned by running water.

And then something familiar
glistened like dust against light.

From her narrow hip spread wings
waiting for a chance
like those of a restless bird  
to transform into dance.

Background Note on the Poem: Bagurumba is a folk dance of the indigenous Bodo tribe in Assam, one of India’s northeastern states. The Bodos used to reside in the foothills of the Eastern and southern Himalayas which are forested areas and the dance form originated as an inspiration from nature.

*Recipient of the second prize at the Orange Flower Awards, 2018.


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