First Love

(another poem that emerged instantaneously from a chat)

Under a rare full moon a train glides
over glistening tracks carrying a song –
percussions and horn, I threw my face
into the night and it was met by yours
At fifteen we looked for love, but
nothing serious that would last, we assesed
it would be real and fast, fingers
melded into answers, shirts that feathered
the wind and then dismembered, sketches
made using eyes that scarcely opened –
and that pulled pause before which
you drew over me freely, like
a child set free in the woods without company
climbing every tree and reciprocating
the surprise of each bird, even
the fireflies not spared by curiosity;
all along I shivered under you, chilled
by the breeze that found space to flow
between you and the moon’s growing glow,
you fell over me like the sea on a promenade
and I lifted you slowly, discovering
that at times time can be formless
and hair belonging to someone locked around you
could be a cushion for breath, also that
the moment thereafter
is a brittle sculpture, withering away
as life gives you other choices

Come

Come wrap yourself around me, like two lotuses
closing in on each other
send poetry into me and nurture my scent
narrate to me tales in Assamese and recipes
of steaming meat inside bamboo and tea inside metal
Fill me with slow hours that replenish, at each
whisper on your weightless arm, travel
across the mountain passes where my ancestors
wait for you with berries and boar pickle
Embrace me tighter, I am becoming the night
clouds hover over me and silken your forehead
A bonfire inside you crackles, on adding wood
your arms lock me into dawn, in the distance
an old train emerges from a tunnel, its song
combining with the newly arrived cuckoos in your heart

Afternoon

humid breath 

between the rain and I 

a steamed window

one kettle
brews a future sip
of both tea and mint

intoxicated, 



leafbird dashes

once grey air 

now flourescent green 


damp wood
-
quiet lungs
perfumed 
final monsoon

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
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
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 sea age,
you wrinkled and became quieter

The Sorrowful Heart of a Nineteen Year Old Girl

Met her through an ice-cream loving friend
Amidst the fete crowd she wore a floral skirt
And rickety shoes, her eyes lacking an eyeliner
Story-less and pure
She called me an unusual scientist with weird ears
And said my nose was like a rocky hill
Even my hair wasn’t spared, her convent accent
Described it as an abandoned nest
Later that month I’d find her
Strolling across the race course
Staring at horses speed past her morose eyes

Her morose eyes

The wintry tears and snowfall of regrets
Her perfect face cancelled by her imperfect self, even
The teenagers from the suburb
Felt she was too smart
But she was just a stupid girl
With a sorrowful heart

For days I’d let her jabber, not just
The usual hormonal rants but even
Lyrics of favourite songs, oh for that matter
Plans to travel to Rome and back
We even booked our trains to China
But it kind of fell apart once the phone cut

The phone cut

Years later with m shirt tucked in
I found her in a mall, she
Dragged around a cart filled
With discounted flour and tea, it even had
Vegetables and frozen meat, she looked
the same except for her skin

Dark in places, pale in some,
Her eyes slow to blink and her hair overdone
She stood in a line with
A heap of worries and despair, the winter
in her eyes colder
At the cash counter
As they touched a travel magazine
That made promises of blue seas
And islands with beautiful men,
She thought of picking one up, but then thought,
Life’s a lie, and at 28,
it’s probably better to look elsewhere


Drama, the Scent of Mangoes, Love 


yellow, the colour
of a summer morning’s arrival
windows disrobing one by one
letting in the season gradually
trees heavy with sweet fragrance

glowing warmly into a town
sounds born from each home, idols
uncovered and water strewn on streets
I wait for you seven years later with nervous glances
your dog, the calendar in your room, your mom’s ghost
watery tea with toast
saucers whose edges have the aftertaste of you
the yellow morning brings me to you and you
to the point of time where stories have been forgotten

in the patch of forest before the paddies
the path leads onward and finds the creek, the sun
travels in a boat and is pecked by gulls, your eyes
young and unsure, meet the sea and look into me
“which is your favourite fruit, you coward?
are you still fond of coconuts and jackfruit?”
I hear you like the ocean hears the wind
rippled, I continue to smile
another season passes

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