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The Girl on the Seventeenth Floor - K. Satchidanandan (India)



-         K. Satchidanandan (India)


I stay on the seventeenth floor.

The moon can see my solitude.

But I cannot touch her sky.


I can see the sea below.

Inside it too there is a sky.

Behind me is a sea of slums.

There is no sky there.


My violinresounds on both sides.

My weeping too.

Both speak the same tongue.


There are no flowers anywhere.


The painted city stretches in front of me

Waiting for her night-visitors.




I can now see a desert growing

At a distance.

It was all green, with

A lake at the centre

Full of water-lilies.


It was in front of our eyes

That the desert was born,

And the sand from the dried-up lake

Came ashore.

It ate up all green like a pre-historic beast.

Only the skeletons of plants

And trees were left on the sand.




One day this sea too will

Turn into  desert.

I can see it coming up with the wind

To take over my seventeenth floor.

And devouring the whole city.


Then I will turn into a cactus.

A flower, reluctant, will bloom on me.


Around it there will appear

Honeybees, bears,

Green-hued humans

Under green stars.


(Translated by the poet, 2021)