Translated by Fakrul Alam as a tribute to the poet on his birthday (July 11)
Poetry springs from childhood memories. It's mother's pale face
Surfacing. It's a yellow bird perched on a neem branch;
Siblings warming themselves around fires stoked by dry leaves
All night long; father coming home, his bicycle bells ringing
And mother's name, "Rabeya, Rabeya", being called till
A rain-water soaked southern door opened.
Poetry springs from knee-deep rivers splashed across
When homeward bound; fog-filled paths; morning prayer calls;
Pithas puffing up when fried, redolent of sesame seed scents;
Fish scale smells; a net flung over the courtyard;
Grandfather's grave covered in bamboo leaves and grass.
Poetry springs from memories—a sickly boy growing up in 1946;
Meetings attended during school hours; processions;
Flags flying everywhere; flames fanned by riots; a distraught older brother
Narrating how he had to return home completely bankrupt.
Poetry is a sandbank bird, gathered duck eggs, fragrant grass
A wife looking glum-faced because her calf vanished when its rope tore;
It's a carefully written letter in a blue envelope secretly delivered;
Poetry is the school girl Ayesha Akhter, her hair all unfurled!
Fakrul Alam has just retired from Dhaka University and is currently working as the Consulting Editor of The Daily Star.