Mace

I unbutton your poems word by word not as a tourist

but as a traveler

the one who sits on roof tops of buses not pictures,

the one who likes to cycle through stanzas stopping at

bus stops not to ask directions from strangers

but to find out their names and where they came from,

I draw them out of camel tracks, eerie havelis, a bangle maker's

hands wrinkled like a used unstarched cotton dhoti.

Your poems are like drum beaters, chest thumpers,

fire handlers and acrobats, loud and obnoxious

the kind I do not want to read.

I like stories that have thick walls, a court yard,

a priest, pot holes, a manganiyar singing while his tired wife looks on,

eagles flying over forts, opium clad deserts,

stranded couple, a bird on the roof and some warm milk.

Stories where you meet your father's teacher,

where wind mills have lost their way

and have blue painted houses that do not

look spectacular but only ordinary,

stories that have pitch darkness. Silence.

I slip my hands between your words

to caress golden sand dunes, temple bells,

like one would worship a family deity.

I want to have arguments with your verbs,

with their carved windows and narrow lanes.

I want to meet them midway between

being written and heard.


Window sill

You break me up into descending rain,

listen to me as you listen to nothing when you enter your empty house,

arbitrarily, condensed and very conscious.

You climb up my sleeves

A quarter of me is below your poised poem as you reach for my eyes

to look into faded pages from a book.

A book that was written when you did not know we existed,

While you unstitched the noise of a train and I stitched air

Far away from each other closing and opening doors

Yet always standing by the window just hoping

hoping that someday a sparrow would arrive

and place a summer on our sill.