Giti Chandra’s poems: Time Quartet

On reading Yeats suddenly

I don’t much mind grey pavements. The sun

Is not the fiercest of my gods and I have many.

Alters abound about me where deities of various 

Hue are summoned and when my prayers are done

They cluster about me. You might call it my

Bee-loud glade. Obeisance paid and worship due

Are the quiet desperation of battles hard-won.

Unmoored, deep-mired, sweet-sung, self-sired,

You are the way and the wayfarer and the tired

Kindness of strangers is sometimes the only boon

Granted. So we could arise, we could go now, but until

Peace comes dropping slow, perhaps some goddess

Of fire will rain yearning upon these pavements

Grey and in those pooling lakes we will build 

Our cities of desire to guide the way.


Why does the white and gold day never 

Prepare you for the setting of the evening

Into sepia tones, how it never let’s you 

Hold edges rose tinted that fall through 

Your fingers yearning like a sinking sun for

Forgotten things. The smell of

Cupboards the slender dents 

Of rings; the sound of your fathers 

Voice as you pressed your ear

To his back muffled and booming

So you could feel rather than hear

The immense heart beating

In that moment that year but now

You are wiser than they were then

Your mom’s hand smoothing your

Hair her knees propping your back

Because how could they have 

Seen this black and white you

Hand coloured in sepia tone? You who

Are wiser now older than they were when 

You never noticed the lights come on 

Marking twilights end. And so 

The day plunges without warning 

From bright and blue to the 

Unnerving pink that blooms like

Mourning and for all that it has shown

This day will not even let you 

Grasp what you have known.

When old men die

We try not to think of our fathers. How they,

At this age or in this shirt or with that

Grey stubble on their now less frequently shaved chin,

Speckling a bonier jaw, a slacker jowl, a skrawnier neck – 

Would look. We try not to meet that old man’s

Eye. How the sockets are drawn in, how

It seems shinier somehow, intent on your face

So as to read your thoughts perhaps anticipate 

Your rejection your already-forgiven guilt

Your patience already wearing thin. We try

Not to listen to the intensity of their speech

How it repeats its urgent injunctions, its requests, its

Generous bequests. When old men die

We try not think of our fathers 

As a man who dodders where he stands. A man 

Who built a nation with his hands.

The middle-aged woman’s promise

Give me three memories. One

Of regrown grass, another of

Hospital rooms, and the last

Of weary feet. Give me but

These three and I

Will give you tenacity, faith,

And care. I will show you

A love that will labour to cover

The bare, the brown, the

Struggling. A desire that will

Dance to the beat of machines

Despair twirling about with yearning.

A joy of strife and a glory of being

That carries the heart to rest

And home. I will read you a story

Of heroism, villainy, and true

Love. A fantastical tale of the ordinary.

Of these three and no more

I will sing you the epic, the tragic,

The comic – of such fabled lore

Will you be if you have made

Of each of these, a memory.

Giti Chandra is currently Research Specialist with the Gender Equality Studies and Training Programme (under the auspices of UNESCO) in Reykjavik, teaches at the University of Iceland, and has been Associate Professor, Dept of English, at Stephen’s College, Delhi. She is the author of The Book of Guardians Trilogy: The Fang of Summoning (Hachette: 2010), The Bones of Stars (Hachette: 2013), and The Eye of the Archer (Hachette: 2020). Her (mostly sci-fi) short stories and (mostly sentimental) poetry have been published in various amazing publications. Sadly, nobody cares about her first non-fiction book, a groundbreaking academic work on violence (Macmillan: 2009), although the Routledge Handbook of the Politics of the #MeToo Movement, (Routledge: 2021) has been getting attention. Giti writes poetry in April, paints on Tuesdays, has a PhD from Rutgers, and feels that people would do well to learn that a cello is not an oversized violin. She lives in Reykjavik with a husband, two kids, a dog, and a cat.

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