Probably

I’ll probably talk about myself in bits and pieces along the way
As we river into life’s slower years with a softening memory
The glass that separates the reflection from the being will dissolve
And sorry doves alighting on grey buildings will take off

In the soothing streams of my childhood you’ll dip rough fingers
And the mountains that hold my ancestry with release scores of eagles
The horses that run into you will burst into a million butterflies
Each carrying a day of my life, hinging between now and then, flapping

And the hush of leaves that follows you windily in my city
Shall stop before the shop where I kept a tab all my life
Within each shelf are preserved secrets, some expired, pick them all
Or none, your call, you may leave anytime

I wait for you at the end of it all besides the lake
Where clouds collate over its face, the birds float over the mirror
And age stops all of a sudden like the clock on my grandfather’s wall
I still remember it, the dial mute and the hands hanging like sorrowing branches
You will sit with me and watch me become a man one last time
Awaiting entry into the sanctuary, breathing, counting every breath on its way out

– translated from Marathi

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Reading Aloud

Reading it aloud:
You
Your whims, your hormonal rants,
The part where you sneeze
The moment you finally cry
I read it all out, your eyes open
Like two journals on either side of your age
With you in the centre, present in the present
Mute as a photo
Out of focus

Your nights
Your breath
The bits of you leftover
In text messages and friends of friends
Even the music you forgot
That comes around unasked
The wall that holds your face
As you fall asleep scarred
Read it all aloud, like a play
We’re listening to each other age
The clock waits for you
The taxi drops it’s meter, the new year
Opens and calls for an encore

Roast



Friday night. Slow roast, an oven pregnant

the guest waits at your table, pouring wine, adjusting table mats
staring into the fruits and finding her childhood favourite

an untouched sweet lime

passing time
the window calls you both, you bond and chatter

wine reduces, only the residue, lingering on a future kiss

…but you miss
she watches you go blank

her eyes get filled with growing scenes 

watching them build and dissolve the breeze blows inward

the night deepens, her touch 

finds your arm



the oven ticks.

Travellers

Last night I fell asleep thinking of you
I dreamt of travellers crossing high mountains
Carrying saffron, gold and tea
I dreamt of eagles taking flight
Witnessing the magic of the earth, through the clouds
I saw a road cut through a lake, water on either side
Where children played on shores and turtles reached for air
I saw maps of places not mentioned on earth
In your voice I heard names of all those countries being whispered
How I wish to visit them all someday
And dream of you everywhere

– seventh segment from a poem series

Landscapes

your hair rivers onto the bedsheet
tracing movements made by the rest of you
your eyes move nervously in a dream
viewing their own private cinema
your fingers gently tremble under a moist breeze
I plant my warmth at your feet

adrift in you earlier I discovered forested lakes
in me your voice echoed across endless mountains
eventually water-falling over my shoulder
and turning the room into its lake
then birds flew out of us one by one taking turns
as we gazed upward with closed eyes searching for a sky

collapsing onto rippled cloth you became a range of dunes

awakened by the stillness of night
I witness you take new shapes beside me
the scent of our time passing grows gradually
buttoning myself I let my palm speak to your forehead
a soft fluorescence robes you like an ocean

Premise

I understood the premise, but before the curtain fell,
the ending passed through and left me empty, hanging
in the dream I left behind at twenty – you scurried across your stage
the white starlings hopped about wondering
who the man in grey kaftan is, you

how I ran into the salt pans, the mirages
deftly slapping me one after the other, the vultures
eating away at my debts – you never surface, in an exposed corner
you typed away into the sky, both friend and father

today in the audience, darkened by the mask of not knowing
what is before and after me, I felt you finally
as man and soul – you gripped your portrait and caged each word
in your voice, I understood how you’re here but then you’re not
living in stories you wrote before your final drought

Masked

The person inward is the sage, outside
Is a masked rogue wearing a smile

Dew falls into earth’s veins
Seeping unaided, the poem
That becomes is the one that is felt
At the outside, only words

The person inward is rage, outside
Is a masked saint wearing a smile