Ruby Rahman took degrees in English from Dhaka University and trained as a teacher. She has worked both as a teacher and a journalist, but has always been best known as a poet.
A century’s dialectic
pushed and pulled at us.
Sweet grass was left, vacation spots were left,
the amazing night
at the Dak Bungalow at Chunaru Ghat,
the intractable moonlight of the forest
like Blake’s tiger
striped with night and mystery.
Farmgate at sundown was left behind,
the long mahogany-shaded roads –
left behind, left behind, they weren’t fulfilled.
Accomplished hands fly away in gusts of wind,
paint spills from the brush, the easel cannot hold it.
The silvery sky spills over the window
and the eyes are dazzled.
Still, Kant and Hegel go on sitting
grim-faced on a cane sofa.
Here, the crystal-clear water of this long century’s
lake was left behind,
here, our bricks, wood, paints, brushes,
hammers and chisels were left behind.
Paint spills out of the paint can,
a few pennies from the pocket,
all the wheelings and dealings blow away like winds
howling along the Padma River’s banks.
The dialectic settles itself down in the brain cells,
gets to know all the unfathomable mysteries from A to Z;
verbal imagery, bricks, wood, and all the words
of our hearts remain.
Our hands move from sound to voices, from voices
to the can of paint;
accomplished hands give overwhelming life but they can’t stay still.
Wind from the Padma River’s bank comes charging in pursuit,
the translation of roses remains unfinished for years on end;
beneath broken moonlight, the Acropolis lies in ruins.
There, the city waking up at evening is left behind;
above the commotion of Topkhana Road
the flowering, boundless twilight
and our sitting face to face, all left behind.
– Translated by Carolyne Wright with Syed Manzoorul Islam