Sujata Bhatt

A Word Spoken on Land

A word spoken on land
      is worth nothing at sea - 

It’s a meaningless, dangerous sound,
          he’s told.
So the sailor turns mute
        as the ship sails south - 

Then, in a new land he has never seen,
        he watches butterflies;
catches two of them to bring back
     to his treeless island - 

Little nymphs he won’t set free.

‘What shall I name you?’
          he asks - 

‘What shall I name you?’