“This Sound” by Bibhu Padhi

Detail from Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss (1908)

This sound is everywhere, always—
a deep sound that rises from
the throbbing centre of the body

and falling around everything.
All that the eyes see and the mind
imagines, enclosing all there is—

this body, these rooms,
the hills and trees that the eye
cannot see but are still there, wakeful,

overflowing much farther things.
A sound hiding a deep, distant
meaning. Not heard by this ear,

but an earless feeling. I have asked
so many if the sound was there with them,
when the night was moonless, star-full,

when the town was sleeping its peaceful
sleep and not a leaf stirred.
Their simple answer amazes me:

They never heard it, even after
I requested them to choose such a silence
as the night and the open fields give.

Sometimes the mind thinks otherwise,
as if some defect somewhere in the naked body
keeps it so close to and yet so distant from me.

Why do I carry this secret sound wherever I go?
I think the answer seems to be the sound itself,
forever soothing like the first rain’s sacred touch.



A Pushcart nominee, Bibhu Padhi has published eleven books of poetry. His poems have appeared in distinguished magazines throughout the English-speaking world, such as Encounter, Contemporary Review, Poetry Review, Poetry Wales, The Rialto, Stand, The American Scholar, Chiron Review, Colorado Review, Commonweal, Confrontation, The Missouri Review, New English Review, New Letters, Poet Lore, Prairie Schooner. Poetry, Southwest Review, Tulane Review, Xavier Review, TriQuarterly, Antigonish Review and Queen’s Quarterly. They have been included in numerous anthologies and textbooks. Four of the most recent are The Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Indian Poets, Language for a New Century (Norton), 60 Indian Poets (Penguin), and The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry (HarperCollins).