Editors' Note: Read poetry editor Timothy Donnelly's interview with Daniel Nadler.

Selections from The Lacunae

You hear the sun in the morning
through closed shutters. As you sleep
the early sky is colored  
in fish scales, and you open your eyes
like a street
already lined with fruit.
Amarusataka 3.89, Sanskrit
Color is sleeping in some birds,
when the sun is too early
to make use of it.
Amarusataka 11.7, Sanskrit
The afternoon is a fugitive
from the morning, and the night
is another country.
Amarusataka 91.18, Sanskrit
Down the river the creatures in the basin prepare
for the splashes the children will make
when they dispute their race. The stirred silt
will fill the little mouths of fish
with clay.
Amarusataka 2.11, Sanskrit
Thick in the forest masks are hung in rows, grinning.
The underside of a dripping leaf is dry.
Dawn is still pinned under the black body that fell asleep on top of us.
The cackle of thunder, like a puzzle, summons the spiders in the canopy.
A nest of stone birds is getting wet.
The drumming of fish, thrashing in a canoe, consecrates the rain.
Charcoaled trees burn slowly.
But the underside of a dripping leaf is dry. 
Amarusataka 1.13, Sanskrit
The earth was fruit, and stars, and motion.
Your mouth was sticky. And your sight
flew in all the directions of birds.
There was no need for music.
So which Devil taught you, sweet Nesha,
to close your eyes when you kiss?
Amarusataka 1.11, Sanskrit
This slim body of yours
is covered in feathers,
as if someone intended to hunt you.
Under this sun
you cannot be comfortable. Woman of high birth
let me make bedding
of your clothes. I have nothing to sleep on
and no other excuse
to offer you.
Amarusataka 1.11, Sanskrit
Apart from you I am as lost
as a pattern in marble.
The delicate hairs
of the stone
were left behind
by your own soft body.
Amarusataka 1.11, Sanskrit
ever since your promise that one day
you would return to marry her,
her thin body has grown thinner
under her glowing skin,
like a shipwreck trapped in the closed bulb of a new flower.
The spine of its keel is almost bulging
through the petal.
You should return.
Amarusataka 2.11, Sanskrit
This girl’s words are as ordered
as birds in the sky when there are fish below.
What is she saying to me?
Amarusataka 18.13, Sanskrit
Like the wind that gusts coastal pines toward the water
sleep bends me toward my lover
and I cannot drink from her.
Amarusataka 1.13, Sanskrit
A tear was painted on your cheek
without ceremony. It looks like a mountain falling
down your face, and was meant to weigh as much
in your heart. Yet there is no sadness in you
as you sit beside me,
and place another log in the fire.
Amarusataka 6.74, 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 lay 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
And if a bird descended on your shoulder
to whisper nothing in your ear
would you be angry? Vain beauty
that expects messages
to which it can reply.
Gathasaptasati  2.85, Prakrit
Author's Note: The excerpts above are from Daniel Nadler’s longer project The Lacunae, a book of imagined translations of poems that do not otherwise exist. They are intended to fill invented or actual lacunae in classical Indian manuscripts.