Photo: Aruni Nayak, CC BY 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Look how the lake licks the boat
on the edges. The soft meander
of a candy in a toothless mouth.
A host of white-bellied sea eagles
tease the lake and touch her face—
half-flying, half-floating—
suspended between water and air.
Neither here nor there:
migrants of the new order.

The sun sees the secret sweat
on the backs of the dark-skinned fishers,
somewhere in the middle of the lake.

Our boat races past their patience
and the hills that stretch on either side:
emblems of human pursuits
as solid as a fisherman’s spine.

The voyage finally ends
on the banks of Kalijai
where the goddess guards
the island and its intricacies,
the fishers and the fowls,
and the faith that comes
from a faraway place.

Debasish Mishra, PhD, from India, is the recipient of the 2019 Bharat Award for Literature and the 2017 Reuel International Best Upcoming Poet Prize. His recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Penn Review, Prism Review, Consequence Forum, and elsewhere. His first book Lost in Obscurity and Other Stories was published by Book Street Publications, India, in 2022.