Virgo Intacta

Basudhara Roy


Once sleep has claimed in you

what you have lately become,

my amorphous journey begins

to arrive through tattered maps

and half-told tales to a place

where you and I have never met

though I have sometimes caught

its glimpses in you when the sun set

and the birds flew home to gather

in their feathers the fluttering fears

of the dark as they waited for the east

to part its curtains and beckon them

to the dawn of promise before your wars,

your peace a sapling in suffering’s yard

you gave in alms fifteen summers ago

when your world was young, virgin

and unpenetrated by questions that now

sit under your skin like watchful owls

contemplating the night away while

I silently row across time to find you the way

your last beloved must have known you

when she drew burnished henna patterns

of clustering vines around your heart

to hold you tight,your kiss of faith

on her finger a ring I found

on our wedding night in the belly

of a fish brought to feed our joy

in making each other our own

though our pages have long bleached

away the poems our hearts beat for

and I am left this quiet night to seek

what has been lost so I can say

for once that I knew you the way

you were before life brought you

to this unwarranted death in me.