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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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

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

Fiction

Just woke up an hour ago, from fiction
Into a tense-less world where
Masks were absent, the traffic blurred like a stream, the
Murmuration of birds tipping the horizon
Like my hands browsing tips of grasses, slow waves
Endless

Eventually,
With the sea on either side, the path
Occasionally emerging with faces from the past,
Language-less, calm
Their eyes sinewed by forgiveness
…I aged backward into skin and bones, thereafter
Thousands of new moons dazed me, I ceased
To be a body with senses and mistakes, instead
The past and future opened their arms
Together
I reached my origin, becoming
A million years older
And a million years younger
Watching my entire being pass by
Changing every second

Waking Up

Just woke up an hour ago, from fiction
Into a tense-less world where
Masks were absent, the traffic blurred like a stream, the
Murmuration of birds tipping the horizon
Like my hands browsing tips of grasses, slow waves
Endless

Eventually,
With the sea on either side, the path
Occasionally emerging with faces from the past,
Language-less, calm
Their eyes sinewed by forgiveness
…I aged backward into skin and bones, thereafter
Thousands of new moons dazed me, I ceased
To be a body with senses and mistakes, instead
The past and future opened their arms
Together
I reached my origin, becoming
A million years older
And a million years younger
Watching my entire being pass by
Changing every second

Captivated

With the lust of details, of course
flights of words and verse
you put me in the highlands where flowers grew wild
yellow, lavender, ivory, burnt sienna
untamed, like the fire in your youth, malign
like the falcon resting on my shoulder –
…It wasn’t real, neither the touch of grass, nor
the earth that left its fragrance
in the place I was once warmed by