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

Without

There is the creaking ceiling fan, there is
The line of crumbs along the table’s edge, your face
Tucked into the blanket as a mask
Hidden from a soft blue window

Quoting an untranslated author, dreaming
Of her verse in the dim silence of your sleep, you
Breakaway and enter the world again, reborn
From a night’s sleep devoid of tense

Elsewhere the town yawns, crawls
The carts of fruit and grain drag, the streets thaw in
Mist exhaled by the mountain over us, your white
Shirt and your reflection in the diary counting
Another day passed by lonely, not knowing
How to meet the evening without an answer

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

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