Ranjit Hoskote

for Sandeep Bhagwati

Seeing is a kind
                    of spelling out
filial and fatherly both
                    it obeys speed
as you hurry to escape
                            the hominid light
when the rain pauses
                          at the dry coconut palm
as tares explode
                              on the bare shore

                              it guides your eye
to a man plucking his clothes
                                 from a mulberry tree
behind him
              folds of earth
                        tumble down a slope
ready to jump
                        or be swallowed
he plucks a curse from the tree
                                                 and aims it

at a stone boat with a gull
        carved on its prow
                      that stretches its wings

look the words
                will find
marigold petals on silk
        iron grid
            lick of rising flames

                           When we leave we leave

Ranjit Hoskote is a poet, translator, cultural theorist and curator based in Bombay. His seven collections of poetry include Vanishing Acts: New & Selected Poems 1985-2005 (Penguin, 2006), Central Time (Penguin/ Viking, 2014), Jonahwhale(Penguin/ Hamish Hamilton, 2018) and, most recently, The Atlas of Lost Beliefs (Arc, 2020). Hoskote’s translation of a celebrated 14th-century Kashmiri woman mystic’s poetry has appeared as I, Lalla: The Poems of Lal Ded (Penguin Classics, 2011). He is the editor of Dom Moraes: Selected Poems (Penguin Modern Classics, 2012). India’s National Academy of Letters has honoured him with the Sahitya Akademi Golden Jubilee Award and the Sahitya Akademi Translation Award. His poems have been translated into German, Hindi, Bangla, Marathi, Irish Gaelic, Swedish, Spanish, and Arabic. Hoskote co-curated, with Okwui Enwezor and Hyunjin Kim, the 7th Gwangju Biennale (South Korea, 2008). He was the curator of India’s first-ever national pavilion at the Venice Biennale (2011).

Read Ranjit Hoskote interviewed by Rebecca Levi


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