Every cell of the body opens and closes
swells and shrinks to the cycle of the moon
while the muscles arch and sing to a different cycle
every fruit and morsel of rice fed by the sun.
And all the cycles in between- the river running dry
for fifteen years, the earth knotted in stubbornness
loops of suffering, the cycle of mourning, the womb
stretched and inelastic filled with the husk of grief.
Seeds travel all over, sprout
from cracks in walls. Different
plants cohabit in a tub – basil with
jasmine, butterfly pea and honeysuckle.
The inflorescence of the mustard field
leaves a scar on the retina
blazing hours after I remain
blindfolded in jaundiced darkness.
He never trims a tree,
the branches awkwardly crisscross
arms tangle like
an amateur yoga practitioner.
He taught me how to lie
in a patch of dead marigolds
the smell of seeds masculine
trapping to the pores of my skin.
The morning glory soaks in
the blue of the sky
till all that is mirrored in his eyes
is the blinding light of my desire.
As if it is easy to pack bags and drudge up the hills
follow the revolution of the earth, the length of days.
Not to grow roots, unattached to the pear tree that fills
the air with the scent of sweet blossoms.
The grass is prickly as the snow melts, smells of fields ploughed
by farmers and the mud stoves in kitchen baking bread.
Clouds release like doves into the air, the eagle circles and casts
shelter on the tent with leathery wings.
I shove under the rough tunic my list of pleasures – the scent of pine
gritty hands of women who pull potatoes out of the soil
the noise of crickets like the jarring sex of seasons at the forest’s edge
the golden thrush swooping down for worms.
The body is resolute in every step, I push the shoulders forward
the feet follow, one and then the other.
The battered heart is left with her in the down of the meadow
where the grass so much in haste covers memories.
The earth closes in the coldness of a sunless day
overhead faint noises of birds splitting twigs.
Do not divest a single pebble from the river
never deny a word that rises like the last breath.
On certain dark days these are what you hold
in the body that falls so easily from the sky
weightless like a feather and a crushed flower,
into the poem which is the only safety net.
Just before dark
the tree stood in clear light
I could almost see
what lay across the fence
when you left
could see a part of me go with you
a part of you stay with me.
He asks me to stay with him till the moon appears
I have sunsets to pursue, chase away the motes that work
constantly from the window to the damp floor in the kitchen.
Knotted in the sheets he refuses to open his eyes, the darkness
behind the lids prolongs the night, the shooting stars dribble
down his dream, pool into silvery tears at the edge of his lids.
He trails threads across the room. Loops of an intestine, he says.
The lesson in anatomy is valuable when I push food into PEG tube
for my husband’s mother, imagine its passage in the abdomen.
He moves beads in his head, fossilizes a dead lizard in layers
of sand, building rubble and leaves. When my shadow shifts
I am alone, he says enfolding into my abundant waist.
The two rivers meet in the town
where the mountain spreads legs
for the valley that is prone on her back
like a slumberous woman.
Gomti flows into Sarayu
ceases to exist after the convergence.
In a statement of finality the river ends
as individual lives terminate.
The old temple priest would not let me step
into Gomti, pick a pebble from a tumble
of moss. My ashes will be strewn here,
he said pointing to the stony riverbed.
His eyes rested on Sarayu’s mercurial water
that flowed in silver twists between rocks.
He touched my head to bless and said:
Sarayu is for the living, for you.