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

Riverside

I love this, just
the river and me
no spectators
only migrants from Siberia
all feathered

Swamps clot around us. Morning,
the shrill comeback of geese
Decors the air, newborn
grass waves its first poem

I love it most when we all settle
Me with my eyes and you with your universe
every bird speaking its own dialect,
without a translator, all grasp
the faint alarm of a predator. Magnificent take off –

Endless echoing percussion. Binoculars.

Cafe, circa 2011

sorry
said the poet, lingering around
looking at a stained tea-cup where
his lips once touched, in steam,
his nose
immersed

…unpaid, half-done, finished
allow me to leave, said the poet
fishing around the outskirts with his glance

arrives the crook, crutches cancelled
as he retires into a chair – his shadows
waving a cigarette

the counter opens to commotion

the poet’s account heavier; he’ll be back
says the crook
what you offer is tea, which everyone does
but what you provide is drama, which no one else does

refill please

Francophone

Today the day scatters moodily, scarfs
tied against pulled back hair
embroidered with block-printed tales
wave along the smoggy air
…bus stop, white earphones
a farewell bid to unknown faces
senseless proximity with strangers
in the distance a coffee shop dead- livened
by an opening shutter
the flux of beans roasting released
a cup rinsed by black
black, and more black
french accent, african descent
a country opens its newspaper

Fields, circa 2010

in the interim, your hair disturbed
by October and its slow winds
flurrying over fields of sugarcane
your rustic accent splintering slangs, your fangs
biting into my innocence
what a fabulous season it was
the highway wasn’t built yet, storks circled
pipits danced, the mat we slept on scarred
by tense movements
muscle and bone
hair and breath
evenings and more evenings
nights without names

Butterfly

catching it is impossible
ignoring it, even more
the afternoon snores, the boy
lost in chores
-but flickering, its beats dot the air
carrying the universe in a glide
in the distance the shimmering tide lowers
the boats park and let their nets sleep, gulls
crowd and behave like flying papers, flapping
…but flapping here is the butterfly
resisting any one spot, resisting
any one audience – playing its mute song
ribboning the air with cerulean and pink
sometimes yellow sometimes stopping to think
on an anaemic plant branch, tanning
under the humid sun
around her the world debates and procrastinates
trees wither and house new caterpillars
music flows in with the evening’s breath
older men at the harbour await their death
as the sun sets a butterfly tinkers before them
sometimes in silhouette sometimes revealed
making old faces move to its pace
before leaving, leaving
a smile on each wrinkled face

Someplace Faraway

someplace faraway
there is a high school dance about to commence
rays of cyan, mauve, chrome touch young bodies
the music is from a different era but the shoes aren’t
and while some of your friends sip rum for the first time
you stand alone unaware that time is moving
a travelling yellow pierces my face, my drink falls
the music floats softly and friends start looking different
this is the dance we never attended
the floor we never scraped with polished shoes
and the ceiling whose hanging lanterns we never saw
even the slow scattering of couples evaded us
so did the long drive through a sleeping city
whose moody streetlights warmed ice-cream carts
we didn’t pass by them with half-shut eyes like we could’ve
we never met like we should’ve