After two days I was luminous and half-naked under the crow the sky

was his company and he was mine, tied to the air as I was to this wood,

bitter, enraged, they drowned my legs in water I could not reach my mouth

is dry but the crow loves me this morning his shriek has authority

(Amarusataka 1.10, Sanskrit)





If I can deceive this girl then let me

forge mountains

hard enough to echo the words they’re made of.

Let me blink, and undo myself for long enough

to notice I am gone.

(Amarusataka 1.10, Sanskrit)





By the evening your hair is curled

like the new tentacles of an octopus. You walk

where the light of the surface

has set.

(Gathasaptasati 18.46, Prakrit)





What is this belt made of, that clasps your dress to your waist?

Could a bird not carry it away, easily? And your shoulders,

upon which this dress hangs—are they wide enough to hold it

if you shrug?

(Amarusataka 14.4, Sanskrit)





The ground of the forest has become muddy in the rain

and now it looks as though we will not find the earrings

your sister gave you. Where did we first lie down?

The whole earth

seems to bare the imprint

of our bodies.

(Kuruntokai 290, Tamil)






the skeleton of a ship on the seabed

takes water as its flesh

and maybe schools of fish

as momentary sails. A single pearl

lost to a current

can become to it

a navigable star.

(Gathasaptasati 7.25, Prakrit)





The afternoon is a fugitive

from the morning, and the night

is another country.

(Amarusataka 91.18, Sanskrit)




The following are imaginary translations of poems that do not otherwise exist. They are intended to fill invented or actual lacunae in manuscripts of 1st Century CE to 8th Century CE Classical Indian poetry (Amarusataka, originally in Sanskrit; Kuruntokai, originally in Old Tamil; and Gathasaptasati, originally in Maharastri Prakrit).


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