An Anthology of Contemporary Nepali Poetry

Banira Giri

Man: The Face of Moonlight

The Face of Moonlight
Bright and radiant in front
Deformity and eternal darkness!
In this sense
Moonlight is a ghost-girl,
Gathering up all the false beauty
When she comes quietly to the window
Be ready with a big ball of wool
And throw it against her back. 
She will keep running away...
Running away...
Keep unrolling the ball of wool
Follow it too;
On the dark moon night
All that deformity, despicable nudity
Will manifest itself in eternal emptiness and 
darkness dense. 
She will have dilapidated, she will have 
spilled all over. 
She will have charred, she will have
Completely been destroyed. 

Do not dig into man's entirety too. 
Do not touch man's beautiful face too. 
Somewhere, somehow,
May you not have to confront him
Like the horrible deformity of the ghost-girl
Man has the face of moonlight. 

In front 
Light and radiance,
Deformity and eternal darkness!
In this sense
The moonlight is a ghost-girl.

(Translated from Nepali by Padma Devkota)

The Signature of Time

leaves its signature
in glittering dewdrops on green grasses,
scratches its mark on the soft leaves
of red and white flowers,
strokes the legs of the babbling child
as it pauses.

It slowly draws the line of a moustache
on the youth with colourful dreams in his heart,
time's signature reddens and deepens by degrees
with the first menstruation of the girl
who has just become untouchable.

As time passes it carefully leaves
signatures on trees, plants and fruits,
and on ridges and hillsides, and their livestock and
great and small.

How gently time colours and sculpts its signature
all over the canvas of the whole world
when it has set the right time for spring to begin;
entranced it reads its own signature
with unblinking eyes,
washing it with fluid moonlight.

Time is skilled in exacting payment:
How quickly it leaves, hammering its rubber stamp
when the bad time of autumn comes-
onto yellowing grasses,
onto withering flowers,
onto falling leaves, 
onto aging people. 
It creeps away, 
stamping the postmark of infertility
onto the wombs of women
whose menstruation has ended. 

Setting deadlines
in the spring of the world and of life,
how hurriedly it corrects and erases
the mature faces of the handsome and ugly,
like a careless student in an answer booklet
It goes, branding into black bunches of hair,
Snatching away the soft roundness of womanhood.

Time is time:
It has no legs,
nor does it have wings,
it cannot be contained anywhere,
it does not scatter Artemisia flowers on mountain cols,
it does not set down its load
or rest awhile on its way, 
it does not linger in the rodi ghar. 

Handing out to life and the world
appointments, reappointments, 
memos of termination,
time is the engineer of the great parikrama:
It plumbs the depths of this world of beauty and non-beauty,
it drives the living world of beauty onwards,
it drives the living world of non-beauty onwards.

(Translated from Nepali by Michael Hutt)