“The fact,” I tell each Kolkata lady, a fact I say now with a solemn smile—
“Will you stay, just a minute, by this imaginary magnolia for awhile?—
The fact is nearly as embarrassing as its presentation.
I have one life. But elsewhere there are many.
The man usually gives birth to a few children. But. Just in case.
Biologically, the seeds he carries—each one a different face—
Are so numerous, it is a miracle of miracles, yes—
If a planet, barren but habitable, elsewhere in outer space
Had enough eggs waiting, one man, in one act, could make a whole race.
This is why men are crazy: it is because there are so many.”
And, of course, yes, so many are ugly and hateful, more would be sad and funny.
But this one, once beautiful, has not had one.
The most beautiful she was, of her particular race;
She was not from Boston, but from a wrecked and ancient place;
He loved her madly, loved her elusive, modest, beautiful face,
With a sweet, repressed, polite, poetic passion—
You would have seen Kolkata transformed into a very poetic place.
They kissed in deserted places; they lived to kiss sad, smiling expressions
That flitted across their two shy faces.
It was not easy. Boston is not a quiet place.
But now they are apart. Something happened to the heart.
He dies every hour, for his children, for his poems, in the joyous agony of many.
She sits, bored, holding her phone. Her happiness is to not have any.
Kolkata ladies, now I know you must be on your way.
Thank you. There you are. Patiently, your scent lingers in the saffron day.