Bamboo – A Poem by Sumana Roy




We like things without bones.

We like things that dissolve inside our mouths

the way life seems to have dissolved into this world.

For death might not have touched every region,

a napkin, a part of a mirror, newly-born memory,

but life’s business is everywhere.

Life’s business is in bones.


We like things without bones.

We want affection to be boneless,

only muscles, like an elephant’s trunk.

We distrust bones – life passes through them,

hidden, like cunning. They break without reason, like retirees.

But also return, as if after an interval.


We like things without bones.

Except when they are bamboo.

Then we dislike the encumbrances of flesh,

when meat and bone become one and the same,

like comedy, grief inseparable from laughter.

Anything without grease will curl –

dry hair; that must be how the heart acquired folds.

Love is grease, it hydrates.

Its bones are invisible, as in water.

Bamboo, oily to the touch, straight, without curls –

love has given it form, without dust, without curtains.


Love is a womb, a paunch. It has no bones.

And so the hollows of air that break speed, like love,

waiting between nodes, bamboo’s cheekbones.

Bones give sophistication, form; marriage wants to be bony.

But bamboo only waits for a season without bones,

a season as spineless as the sky or dreams,

and finding none, it rests at last –

erect, wondering whether shoes have bones.

About the author:

Sumana Roy’s first book, How I Became a Tree, a work of non-fiction, was published in India in February 2017. Her first novel, Missing, will be out in March 2018. Her poems and essays have appeared in GrantaGuernicaLARBDrunken Boat, the Prairie SchoonerBerfroisThe Common, and other journals. She lives in Siliguri , India.