Throwback Thursday: Two Poems: “When Thisbe Was Dead” and “In the Bath”

Two poems from 2011 in Muse India.

View post to subscribe to site newsletter.

Before telephones, there were walls. Image credit

These were originally published by Muse India in 2011

I’ve been wriitng all my life. I took the long route, throwing myself into ambitious projects without establishing my basics. So I’m still in the process of becoming a decent writer. Occasionally on this site I’ll share an older published piece. They’re pretty shitty. I’m posting them here in the hope that, if you want to write, you’ll realise that it takes time to become good at something, and won’t give up.

In the Bath

City dust conducts into my brain
a shimmering coma of heat. As I stride in

the bathroom mirror presents a bulge
of mirageless desert. I suck in and
turn, looking for an oasis: then remember I 
am a feminist and hesitate away.

I cast the faceless dice of waterdrops
up and await, eyes closed, the free-falling
atoms of relief: then remember I
am an environmentalist and turn off the tap,

peering over the rail tracks at the little blue
plastic tanks, atop the straggling houses
of the self-limiting otherside: then remember I
am modest and shut the window.

I wish someone had seen me: perhaps the child
ogling at his luminous ochre droppings
by the tracks, oblivious: then remember I
am punctual and step out,

fumbling back into my spotless private 
prison, unrefreshed.


When Thisbe Was Dead

On love-wings woven with two 
years’ whisperings from lust-webs
he flies to the trysting-place:

Ninos’ tomb: the chosen womb 
of the rebirth of Pyramos
surging from blind alleys 

into her arms. She was in mulberry-white
when she hung her lantern on his soul
in the slave-market in her thirteenth summer.

What will she wear on this
her wedding-night? ‘White,’ she’d 
sworn, sending him her breath

through the wise old crack in the wall
of her courtyard, of his garden
as her mother called for the buckets.

From their twilight minutes he has 
drawn her: white veil over dirty world. 
Then beneath the mulberry-tree 

crimson with death he sees 
her disembowelled bride’s-veil.


By Amita Basu

I'm a writer based in Bangalore, India.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s