• Poems: Salil Chaturvedi

    cezanne ibiblio 2Paul Cézanne, 'Bibemus Quarry' / Ibiblio

    here    I     am

    longitude 70o 30' east
    latitude 28o 2' north (roughly)
    in the month of October
             having gone around the sun forty seven times
    but always, always, through new territories
    in space.
             having been fascinated,
    neutral, then disgusted by tele-vision
        and many other visions.

    having broken my back in two places
            twenty kilometres south of a river
            six kilometres west of another
            directly under a flight path
            on the eastern edge of an old mountain range
            that seems to have tired of civilisations
            and wonders what the word ‘civil' is doing there.
    eighteen kilometres west of an Air Force Firing Range
    where they practice dive bombing
    honing their skills for a war, they say,
    but I think it’s because they really enjoy it.
    about two hundred kilometres east of the Thar desert
    but not so far that its dust doesn’t reach me on hot summer winds.

                having rescued the tiny corn from last night’s bruising
                having dusted wasp eggs from beans
         having spoken words of encouragement
      to the okra seeds that have been in the soil for three days
    having seen that there is more scripture in a bird than in a book.

    BEATEN. PUMMELLED. PLAYED. KICKED. BRUISED. SQUEEZED.
    KISSED. CARESSED.

    today. now.
    temperature 25 degrees celsius. haze.
    humidity 54 percent. dewpoint 15 degrees celsius.
    two hundred and thirty three metres above sea level.
    under an orion sky.
                 having noticed that galaxies are displaying fluid dynamics
    and that mountains are just waves walking leisurely over land
    having loved, among all earthly things, comics, rainy days and radio the best
    having tried, always, to give myself someone new to look at in the mirror

    having tasted the resin of over fifty trees
    having seen monkeys sleeping squeezed between tree trunks
                   having known that the truths I cherish lie
              six centimetres under the soil

    having been certain as sunlight that our toys will tomorrow play with us

    winds northerly, 14 kilometres per hour. gusting. high tide at 11.06 am, 2.25 metres.
                       having understood that I am at odds with everything, including myself.
    legs like sticks

    FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE…         and animal
    HERE     I        AM!        GRAOOWWARRRRRGHHHH!

    don’t come near me               i’ll bite you in places.

     

    In my always temple

          there are 184,000 deities
    open skies
             old ruins
           fresh expressways
    mountain trails
                whale killings
                                 gunfire
                                   cricket matches
    play schools
            feverish love
                      mad desires
    quiet saints
              dance competitions

                  discarded condoms
                                wheat fields

    and ELEPHANTS ROAMING WITHOUT CONTEXTS

    In my always temple
     say cheese
              jet streams
                     forests on fire

    bullet wounds
                shrapnel
                    French kisses
    full moons
         radiant sunflowers
               armoured trucks
                          space shuttles
    thatched huts
    and CLOTHES DRYING ON A CLOTHESLINE TIED TO A TREE

    In my always temple
                     there are lost people trying to find their way
    bamboo clumps
                bitter gourds
                       book launches
    giant redwoods
                  railway tracks
                       grenade launchers
    sit-down dinners
               open-pit mines
                      algae
    and NAKED TRIBAL WOMEN BATHING IN STREAMS

    In my always temple
            there are animal-shaped pencil boxes
    flower arrangements
                              radars
                                 dance gurus
    comic book artists
                        fighter jets
                              forested valleys
    monsoons
            mud huts
    and a KITE CIRCLING OVERHEAD

    In my always temple
       it’s always prayer time.

        Bring some flowers.
    wild.
           blue.

     

    cezanne wikimediaPaul Cézanne, 'Mont Sainte Victoire' / Wikimedia

     

    Salil Chaturvedi writes short fiction and poetry in English and Hindi. He lives in Chorao, an island in Goa.

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