those shoulders cut by neat collars
forehead cancelled by wavy hair
breeze gently urging the dead ceiling fan
a fragrance of moist dust
in a room built in 1856,
as the men
with white skin and jackets address it
the land of paddy and wild boar hunts
roasted pepper, sound of rain
erased by the gush of tides baptising
us as children during our first swim
a trail of coconut trees at the end of the creek
black dolphins, black pomfret
blackbirds and black panthers
suddenly re-written with potatoes
and red chilli, a book with castes and creeds
another one with rules
of something called a religion
I hear the echo of the migrant cuckoo
announcing the start of a storm
the sky overcasts slanting roofs
in them sanctioned only certain people
with new surnames
outside, the lanes, trampled
by my ancestors, waiting
for a boat to flee


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