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from 'Zones of Assault' by Ranjit Hoskote


 Zones of Assault by Ranjit Hoskote (born in Bombay, in 1969), his first book of poems, was published in 1991. From the book's back cover:
This is also, at one level, a poetry of landscape, of battleground, foodplains and mountains. The vitiated coast of and near Bombay (where the poet lives) and a Central Asian terrains - inherited from Hoskote's ancestral past, which is Kashmiri - play a significant role in some poems.
Reviewing Zones of Assault, in 1991 for India Today, Agha Shahid Ali, a poet who often traced his Kashmiri ancestry in his work, wrote: "Hoskote wants to discover language, as one would a new chemical in a laboratory experiment. This sense of linguistic play, usually missing from subcontinental poetry in English, is abundant in Hoskote’s work."



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Two Women in Midsummer

Two women in midsummer
Sharing their loss
In traditional white.


Walls, their bricks baked brown,
Relieved now and then
By pictures fading into cool green remembrances.


Idols in a corner, somewhat dusty;
The shrine is patient
Through forgetfulness and dried flowers.

Two women in midsummer
Adrift in a garden,
In rank weeds, unaccustomed perplexities.

Dark eyes gaze out blankly
Past the steam shivering over the coals,
The embers smoulder redly, unnoticed.

The courtyard where they had sung
And splashed around in orange and yellow
Is starched and crisp and white.

Two women in midsummer
Stare across a many-pillared space,
A wordless space, a nameless space.

Even the crimson stains have gone.
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For those who might want to buy this rare book:
Zones of Assault (New Poetry)

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