In this lyrical, powerful poem, Basudhara Roy explores the “numerous selves” held within the landscape and borders of the body.
In this Body’s Country
Solitary never alone
in every plane of my body
lurks a self with a mind of its own
refusing to conform cooperate
bow to rationality method duty
insisting it needs its quiet enclosure
its glass cubicle of liberty
from which the world though disavowed
shall be seen as in a dream
evaluated and rejected at will.
Undivided before birth
sleeping in the belly of a sea
unaware of being an island
this comma of flesh slid out like hope
from a tilted continent sovereignty unwanted
every dreaming tissue under injunction to perform.
Precisely then mutiny broke within me
of a roaring country demanding rights
constitution charter reforms
patriotism appeasement anthem.
While I am with you
you do not know which of my numerous selves
speaks beckons turns you away.
When you squeeze my limbs into a box
the bones are still pregnant with thought.
When the heart softens with desire
I fill my own shores so there is no land left.
When you come in love trail gently unarmed
through each territory on the body’s map to
assure your arrival is no invasion.
Under the stars there is peace at times.
In the creek of the underarm the willing ear
hears the rumble of the sea. These ribs make
music sometimes and the clavicle traces
in tremors its beats. Tides rush sometimes
through the abdomen and the vaginal
cave-mouth dribbles milk. Sometimes
this entire country sleeps. Only I lie awake
sentinel not over its borders but over this
tender sleep that yawns softly beside death.
About Basudhara Roy
Basudhara Roy teaches English at Karim City College affiliated to Kolhan University, Chaibasa. She is the author of two collection of poems, Moon in my Teacup (Kolkata: Writer’s Workshop, 2019) and Stitching a Home (New Delhi: Red River, 2021) Her third poetry collection Inhabiting is forthcoming this year. Her latest work is featured in Live Wire, The Woman Inc., Madras Courier, Lucy Writers Platform, Berfrois, The Aleph Review and Yearbook of Indian English Poetry 2020-21, among others. She loves, rebels, writes and reviews from Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, India.
This piece was written as part of our latest mini-series, Our Body’s Bodies
Everything is written on the body – but what does it mean to write about our bodies in the era of Covid-19? And is it possible to write about bodily experiences in the face of such pervasive and continued violence? Using different modes of writing and art making, Lucy Writers presents a miniseries featuring creatives whose work, ideas and personal experiences explore embodiment, bodily agency, the liberties imposed on, taken with, or found in our bodies. Beginning from a position of multiplicity and intersectionality, our contributors explore their body’s bodies and the languages – visual, linguistic, aural, performance-based and otherwise – that have enabled them to express and reclaim different forms of (dis)embodiment in the last two years. Starting with the body(s), but going outwards to connect with encounters that (dis)connect us from the bodies of others – illness, accessibility, gender, race and class, work, and political and legal precedents and movements – Our Body’s Bodies seeks to shine a light on what we corporally share, as much as what we individually hold true to.
Bringing together work by artistic duo Kathryn Cutler-MacKenzie and Ben Caro, author Ayo Deforge, poet Emily Sweetenham, writer and poet Elodie Rose Barnes, writer and researcher Georgia Poplett, writer and researcher Hannah Hutchings-Georgiou and many others, as well as interviews with and reviews of work by Elinor Cleghorn, Lucia Osbourne Crowley and Alice Hattrick, Lucy Writers’ brings together individual stories of what our bodies have endured, carried, suffered, surpassed, craved and even enjoyed, because…these bodies are my body; we are a many bodied being. Touch this one, you move them all, our bodies’ body.
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Feature image: Detail from Abdul Mati Klarwein, Astral Body Asleep, 1968, under fair use.