Three Poems

Altar

A redolent pall of incense
crawls through rooms, fed
by the dead and dying
at the hospital.

                                         One large altar,
at the entrance, adorned with tall statues:
A Lakshmi, A Saraswati, A Durga, A Kali
A Parvati, some Kamakhya, Bhavani-Bhuvaneshwari.

All our hopes pile up in a queue
at their feet, for answers
that none bring. We're absorbing
quiet pauses, amid the sounds
of hurried stretchers, and screaming mothers
regret and sacrifice and pain and nothing.

Save for one old man, who fears–
having slept outside for five years–
that his daughter's ghost resides at the feet
of Kali.

          Every morning, a prayer
                It is, he places a marigold there
                       before swallowing any food.

 

 

One Eyed Ghost

One eyed beggar raises his head
from the depth between his knees
at the train station, as though
he wants to sleep a tad more
comfortably, in my gaze.

A wraith, I see, he fades 
out, in the ether.

I ride the bus alone
my heart stammering.
I cannot name the fear

that says you're losing
your mind, for real.
I cannot name it. I,
I don't look back.
 

 

The Whale

By the quay
we ingurgitate
an ancient burden:
language, its whims

buried in the current,
of the Mediterranean.

Between this winter
and the last
all that changed

was the route
of a primordial undertow.

The past, now apparent
finally compos mentis
upright, blinking, clueless: its body
fresh, deranged, with the agony
of leaving the bed, awoken
abruptly, from a stupor.

How many lovers has the sea swallowed?
How many sorrows will it shovel
down, with a side of secrets,
before it bubbles up? And

the whale
 of woe
in
her
belly

swells
into a flood?