Inheritance | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 17, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 05:03 PM, June 17, 2017

Poetry

Inheritance

“… they shall inherit the earth.”

Across the street from the Pan Pacific 

Hotel Sonargaon, named after an ancient 

capital, now a pile of moldering bricks,

the site of a Mogul caravanserai 

is the city's largest grocery market,

100% bio-degradable, though the smell

doesn't quite reach the crossroads

where we spend a sizeable fraction

of our days trying to ignore

beggars of all ages and juvenile hustlers,

pretending to watch

a stainless steel fountain

that looks like something

from a chemical works

and sprinkles water 

only on national festivals,

as we wait for the traffic light

to turn green, and when it does,

for the traffic policeman's restraining arm

to come down as he toots his whistle

like a soccer referee signaling Goal!

The jouisance of getting through

is as good as an orgasm.

Past midnight – traffic cops all abed –

lights shine and change pointlessly.

Trucks laden with produce

to three times their capacity

grunt and grumble, turning gingerly

toward the market.

 

In those seconds

as the driver's eyes are seduced

by light caught in the fountain's

silently writhing steel pipes

street brats materialize 

like apparitions; 

one lands 

on a truck like a basketball

dunked by an invisible hand;

to raised waiting hands he passes

quickly dislodged cauliflowers, cabbages,

gourds, dried fish, bags of potatoes,

 rice, lentils, sugar, salt,

and slithers down like a cat

to vanish with his friends

like exhaust from a beat-up old truck.


Kaiser Haq has received the Sherwin W. Howard poetrt award for 2017 from the journal ‘Weber- the Contemporary West” for the poems reprinted here. He is professor of English at the University of Dhaka.

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