Rohtang, circa 2007

Raise a toast to the breeze,
to the stars, the snow, the ruins
without forgetting the mist that
slowly reveals every pine
body by body, signalling
the morning’s birth through a thrush,
through the calm slither of Beas, young
before it ages over the neighbour’s earth

And give special mention to
the lady who decided fire was
important tonight, and the man who
offered time and a stew, tea, flatbread
that went well the apples from earlier
and never forget the pass, whose gradual
unfurl of mountain after mountain, each
a match-cut in a winding cinema

Raise a toast to the breeze,
to the rocks, the chants, the eyes
of the lammergeier who made you envious
of height, and other impossible things
such as effortless flight and freewill

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Parts

I wrote the parts before and the parts after;
The rest formed itself like the wind that sculpts the mountain
Its peak chiseled into a stillness
Clouds travelled over me while each syllable
Returned as an echo from the forest

The slow sadness of rain arriving, of watching
This moment melt into the next, none of this
Troubled the becoming sentences
Each of which, awaiting eagles,
Stood at the cliff

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

Grey Season, circa 2011

my fingers draw patterns on fogged glass, downstairs
the street smudged by a slippery season clogging
the quaint town with the stench of puffed wood and
occasional touches of passerbys whispering taunts
that get replaced by smoke from tobacco pipes
– vintage

while the lonely houses fixate their gaze
towards the hazy peaks troubled by clouds the
greyness of noon is plucked by that one colourfully
dressed lady carrying a large bag, crossing the street
and stopping over to buy some vegetables,
her pink scarf becoming a colourful star

later she cooked me for and I thanked her for everything
the beef stew seasoned with mountain salt and pepper
the scarf- I asked whether I could have it, she smiled
and let me carry home an old teacup
on which colours mixed like moody rainbows, curtailed
by the discipline of patterns

Govind Ghat, 2016

The cold mountain sleeps calmly.
On awakening, the morning’s white blanket
reveals trees little by little.
Monochrome silhouettes of conifers, yawning
through the moist fog of autumn, finches,
flycatchers and resonant barbets
compose the valley in unison.

Women mount the sack of hay, their back
crooked and burdened by the slope, smiling
they wave at us from the waterfall. Horde
of mules and one excited dog engulf and leave us.
The sky opens into blue.

I touch the barks of a hundred trees, stepping
over each stone like a syllable in a long story.
The moss cushions my progress as magpies glide
from path to path
Sounds of a temple find me faintly
The mountain meditates like a master.

22.1.17