In this Issue - Poetry

We never talked about whether Jains

were OK with electric crematoriums

when I was younger. These days even

the chairs have opinions on mortality,

speak with certainty, like people

who are convinced they know exactly

which mosquito gave them dengue.

We learned to say trunk calls,

long-distance minutes with

the lost boy or uncle in England,

 

Is there anything more moving than two young men

in a Toyota Rush parked in the corner of level P3,

stealing a little time and space for themselves,

exchanging kisses wide-eyed – keeping watch as one

The bird cried with a wildness, yellow beak parted in gasps

as his feathers peeled away with the pitch,

skin underneath raw and burned.

 

We left him there, panting under an overturned laundry basket,

too ashamed and weak to end it.

 

You can appreciate culture

fold your legs in supplication

bend your head, fast all day in a temple

knowing tomorrow you will be home.

 

There are the gentrified mountains, not

Enough to unsettle, no, but enough

To be a logical foil for the gleaming city

 

Construed for a new nation.

A nursing home? Hell, no! I’ll never 

go, my father says, damned waiting

 

room for death. But my mother says

she’s ready, she’s tired of endless chores,

 

the thieves, the cockroaches. Let me rest, 

please, she begs.