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.
You might salute the sun
weave your fingers to see the first rays of light
stand waist deep in the freezing Ganges
face east waiting for the sunrise.
Surya powers us with the metre of poetry
the words germinate the three universes.
The earth time is marked with reference to the sun
the rising and the setting, the days and the nights.
In another poetic reality the moon slices the sky
halves the month into darkness and light.
Within the lunar rhythm the sea rises in orgasm
the earth is enthralled in a pearly stillness.
You are eighty years old
if you have lived a thousand full moons.
Image courtesy: Huffpost
After he leaves for the airport
the dust from his shoes settles on the floor
The smell of soap lingers in the room
as I fold the warmth of his body in the blanket
It goes back to the practice from my childhood
when I wandered in the overgrown backyards of people
to collect the thumbai flowers, pinches of moon in my palm
that I weaved into a garland, the pale stem of a flower
pressed into the heart of another, into the soft pouches
of nectar for the bees that helicoptered to my face
Brush of wings a whisper so faint like the slight
movement of his chest as he slept
I pay attention to the small things in him that the others miss
so like the thumbai flower that no one cared to gather.
The ladle is you
the oblation is you
it is offered by you in the fire
which is you.
You shall be attained by the one
who is absorbed in you .
~ Bhagavad Gita
The lone traveler cooks his last meal
throws the pots into fire doused
by steady fall of snow. The pines are left
miles below, only the hum of wind
the hiss of breath at the tip of the tongue
as air journeys from sinking diaphragm
fanned by fire from the womb.
A stitch of light rips the skin of dawn
to unravel the slow-burning planet.
Smoke rises from the forest
folds into the ample breast of earth.
He labors his breath, pebbles roll in the chest
each one a chant he learned standing neck deep
in the freezing river.
Pieces of earth I gathered
breathed into clods of clay
till roots grew from my palm
branches clenched my breast.
Like a mother I lactated
nerves tips loosened with sap.
As flowers burst into colours,
seeds tugged me. But the cycle
terminated when the sky
declared water is earth.
इदमापः प्र वहत यत्किं च दुरितं मयि ।
May the water cleanse me.
(Apah Suktam, Rig Veda)
The gut knots in loops of metal strings,
muscles tighten around my bag of seeds
as rain batters on the glass that trembles
first, then shakes in a shattering threat.
The night is drained of colours, sedimented
like dark silt. I stretch my arms like octopus –
everything falls away from grasp , only
night dust that I carry in the cracks of skin
as the roof over my head blows away and
water rises to my knees, hips, shoulders,
jaws, mouth, nose , eyes that break into
light bright, metallic, psychedelic where
noise includes silence, and darkness light.
*’Apah’ in Sanskrit means water.
The flower changes colour
every cell mutates, energy shifts
into the space beyond sun lit morning
to dreams that fail to levitate
There was never a flower.
No colour. The river of light
scavenged forms, peeled away names,
took me down from the peg of my body
Dye in the fabric is the song
of a bird, also the pine that breathes
vapours into a forest – the cones prickly
in a mind nonexistent
The ink dries on an empty
page. Words like fish bones
on a plate taste like grey mist,
salt of a wave in an ocean