Keeping In | A Poem by Basudhara Roy

The world shutters up. I follow suit.
Only to realize there’s no one place
where I fully belong. Home, walled in,
loses concavity. Flattens out like a lounge,
a place of transit wanting one to only
bide patiently. To not stay, grow, belong.

I walk our rooms like lines of a poem
I have always known by heart. Only now,
there is more here. Fear lines the walls like
dense memories of finger-prints. Silence has
more questions to ask. Laughter finds ways
to avoid mirrors. Suspicion stretches wearily

under the dining table like a homeless cat. I
feel its thick fur under my feet. Condiments,
grains, I have never befriended before, stare
me in the face. They promise my famished
nightmares boiling pots, well-fed hearths ablaze.
Do I have enough for our need, I ask myself,

but having never really learnt need’s arithmetic,
I let go. I decide, in walling in, I must play host to
them all. I scrub floors, water plants, offer damp
clothes, hair, pillows to the sun. I allow myself,
for a moment, to be taken in by the unchanged
smell of coconut oil on my palms. Their little

noses pressed to the glass, the children’s
longings remind me of the world’s edges,
of tender fish hungers at an aquarium’s
corners, of caged birds, of freedom on a 
leash. I dig out with both hands the gravel
in the heart, beckon to the brood, sing a song.

(Painting Courtesy:

Basudhara Roy is the author of two books, a monograph, Migrations of Hope: A Study of the Short Fiction of Three Indian American Writers (New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers, 2019) and a collection of poems, Moon in my Teacup (Kolkata: Writer’s Workshop, 2019). As a creative writer, she has featured in an anthology, Dancing the Light: Poems from Australia and India,  and in magazines like Muse India, Shabdadguchha, Cerebration, Rupkatha, The Challenge, I-mantra, The Volcano, Gnosis, Daath Voyage, Das Literarisch, Reviews, Triveni, Setu, Hans India and on the Zee Literature Festival Blog. She is Assistant Professor of English at Karim City College, Jamshedpur, Jharkhand and can be reached at

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