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

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

Morning

Morning. A footstep plants In the balcony.
A city opens again

Eschewing the temple, an urchin
Runs into the butcher’s lane
To find hanging bodies
He carries their image forward

A coconut cracks. The thick demise
Of slow incense, fills a store
Water sprinkled for unseen deities

Inside the curtain inhales, the lungs
Of the room charred by smoke
And last night’s debates, scatters
In leftover scraps and bottles

Your second alarm rings; murky and withered
You rise to go to battle

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

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

Leaving Behind

the table creaks, a dove
takes sudden flight
leaves behind a twirling feather

it thuds the floor mutely

the town rises home by home
street by street, step by step
shadowless faces smile and yawn
a sun softened by a quilt of clouds

grey and thick like my grandmother’s hair

she does not live here anymore
only her cats do, a few spice bottles
transperent and organised
they tell us about her past and future
the kitchen window lights up like a film screen
outside, a row of doves
take flight and disappear
leaving behind a fluttering echo