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

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 season
Opens and calls for an encore

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

Night

12.11 am. Let it begin. Raincoats soaked,
teapots cloaked
by thick steam, the murmurs of shadows
passing in and out of their faces

Books browse the breeze, their flaps open
pages stroked and shivered
unwritten bits whispered as wants
sitting on moist ears

Like a workshop, the bed, busy and frantic
rises and falls like an ocean, whose waves
travel towards the silent coasts of windows
faraway and sleeping

Waiting

You shouldn’t have left your books back there
You shouldn’t have made fake promises to them before leaving
As you parade across the world they wait for you
To open the door, pet them, smell them
Narrate tales of your voyages and romances
With each passing day they watch the ceiling and the empty bed
Missing your fingers and longing for your eyes
Everyone likes to be looked at once a while

Serenade

Was last night’s serenade a dream?
The incandescence of aged tungsten warming, the bridge
whose ends welcomed dead poets singing
songs from forgotten years, their lyrics translating
into one another like a stew mixing
While your scarf waved gloriously, the seagulls
arising from an aligned sleep dashed in vivid numbers
and fishermen who threw their caps into an indigo sky
lost them in a maze of flaps
Across the bridge a town hummed with the pages
you left half-read as a child, now
they were soiled posters talking of a future
as you showed me around the lanes and carts
like a child running across her ancestral home, the
flags in the square, the market of unused footwear,
the roads fluid with passing spirits carrying little joys
You flew me across the circle into the town of lakes
where every boat carried your favourite food into floating homes
asking me silly questions, you trapped my reflection in a picture
calling it a painting – you said – this will mean much more later
as you rowed into and across brittle homes soaked in black water
calling out to former friends, all asleep, never to wake up to see you smile
Just then a sea appeared, the very end of the creek
you shed a tear, watching an orange moon descend
and make love to a tired ocean, ‘this is where I come
to talk to myself’, you confessed
as I watched the seasons change,
you wrinkled and became quieter