We Stood on the Terrace

by Bibhu Padhi

On the tall apartment building’s
terrace, the sky was clear
like my mind. Hobbes’s
clean slate waited on the brain’s
grey-white wall. And then
the planets sailed towards us–
countless stars, their planets.

The sun was elsewhere.
The colourless cosmic space
was a distance that we could
touch, feel its vast emptiness.
The planets sailed towards
us and back. Their quiet journeys
were like air on the grass.

Each planet came, smiled,
whispered a word
beyond our ears.
We stood and greeted each
with a smile we never learnt
in our lives, never smiled in the past.

And then, a shining circular disc
with a slim, simple figure
rising toward the centre
that looked like the sun-dial
at the middle of the quadrangle
at Ravenshaw College that
we watched for
a long time to guess
its recorded hour.

The disc seemed to shed its shine
to a soft cream-white, as if
it never wished to hurt our poor,
modest eyes, came to the nearest

of the lot, stood before
our stunned surprise and thrill,
and said in an emperor’s voice,
“I am Jupiter,” and then
sailed back to what seemed
its customary place.

I remember how others–
earth’s residents for a while
just as we were–struggled
to reach the terrace
by the staircases, dark
ill-functioning lifts, and fire-escapes
only to stumble somewhere.

We stood still. Time had
evaporated into space
and space had turned into a
a vapourous zone through which
each planet and star trembled
just as we see them now, this
September night of low-pressure rain.
Our world was there,
is still there. Like the planets
and stars. Like Jupiter.


Bibhu Padhi has published ten books of poems. His poems have been published in distinguished magazines throughout the English-speaking world such as Hawaii Review, New Letters, The New Criterion, Southwest Review, Poetry (Chicago), Queen’s Quarterly, The Antigonish Review ,Encounter, Poetry Review, Poetry Wales, Stand, The Rialto, Wasafiri, The Illustrated Weekly of India and Indian Literature. They have been included in numerous anthologies and textbooks, three of the most recent are The Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Indian Poets, 60 Indian Poets (Penguin) and The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry (Harper-Collins) Also, he has written a book on D. H. Lawrence (Whitston) and (with his wife, Minakshi Padhi) a reference book on Indian Philosophy and Religion (McFarland).


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