My body carved from abandoned bricks of a ruined temple,
. from minaret-shards of an old mosque,
. from slate-remnants of a medieval church apse,
. from soil tilled by my ancestors.
My bones don’t fit together correctly as they should —
the searing ultraviolet light from Aurora Borealis
. patches and etch-corrects my orientation —
magnetic pulses prove potent.
My flesh sculpted from fruits of the tropics,
. blood from coconut water,
skin coloured by brown bark of Indian teak.
My lungs fuelled by Delhi’s insidious toxic air
. echo asthmatic sounds, a new vinyl dub-remix.
Our universe — where radiation germinates from human follies,
. where contamination persists from mistrust,
. where pleasures of sex are merely a sport —
where everything is ambition,
everything is desire, everything is nothing.
. Nothing and everything.
White light everywhere,
. but no one can recognize its hue,
no one knows that there is colour in it — all possible colours.
Body worshipped, not for its blessing,
. but its contour —
. artificial shape shaped by Nautilus.
Skin moistened by L’Oreal
. and not by season’s first rains —
skeleton’s strength not shaped by earthquakes
. or slow-moulded by fearless forest-fires.
Ice-caps are rapidly melting — too fast to arrest glacial slide.
. In the near future — there will be no water left
or too much water that is undrinkable,
. excess water that will drown us all.
Disembodied floats, afloat like Noah’s Ark —
no gps, no pole-star navigation, no fossil fuel to burn away —
. just maps with empty grids and names of places that might exist.
Already, there is too much traffic on the road —
. unpeopled hollow metal-shells without brakes,
swerve about directionless — looking for an elusive compass.
‘Disembodied’ by Sudeep Sen first appeared in the June- July issue of the London Magazine (UK) in 2017. ‘Disembodied’ has been republished in Rochford Street Review with the permission of the author.
Sudeep Sen’s prize-winning books include Postmarked India: New & Selected Poems (1997), Rain (2005), and Aria (2011), winner of the A. K. Ramanujan Translation Award. A special commemorative edition of his collected poems, Fractals: New & Selected Poems | Translations 1980-2015 (London Magazine Editions), was released by Derek Walcott. His latest book, EroText, is experimental fiction and was published by Vintage: Penguin Random House. Blue Nude: New Poems & Ekphrasis, winner of the Jorge Zalamea International Poetry Prize, is forthcoming. Sudeep’s works have been translated into over twenty-five languages. He has translated and edited poetry for numerous anthologies, including The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry by Indians (2012). He has a Masters in Journalism with articles published in the Times Literary Supplement, Newsweek, Guardian, Observer, Independent, Telegraph, Financial Times, Herald, Poetry Review, Literary Review, Harvard Review, Hindu, Hindustan Times, Times of India, Indian Express, Outlook, and India Today. Sudeep has been recorded for, and broadcast on, BBC, PBS, CNN IBN, NDT, AIR, and Doordarshan. His poems have been included in several anthologies. His newer work appears in New Writing 15 (Granta), Language for a New Century (Norton), Leela: An Erotic Play of Verse and Art (Collins), Indian Love Poems (Knopf/ Random House/ Everyman), Out of Bounds (Bloodaxe), Initiate: Oxford New Writing (Blackwell), and Name me a Word (Yale). He is the editorial director of AARK ARTS and the editor of Atlas. Sudeep is the first Asian honoured to speak and read at the Nobel Laureate Festival. The Government of India awarded him the senior fellowship for “outstanding persons in the field of culture/literature.”