Arvind Krishna Mehrotra
I recognize my father's wooden skin,
The sun in the west lights up his bald bones.
I see his face and then his broken pair of shoes,
His voice comes through an empty sleeve.
Birds merge into the blue like thin strokes.
Each man is an unfinished fiction
And I'm the last survivor of what was a family;
They left in a caravan, none saw them
Slip through the two hands.
The dial spreads on the roof,
Alarms put alarms to sleep,
Led by invisible mules I take a path across
The mountains, my alchemies trailing behind
Like leather-bound nightmares;
There isn't a lost city in sight, the map I had
Preserved drifts apart like the continents it showed.
My shadow falls on the sun and the sun
Cannot reach my shadow ; near the central home
Of nomad and lean horse I pick up
A wheel, a migratory arrow, a numeral.
The seed is still firm. Dreams
Pitch their tents along the rim.
I climb Sugar Mountain,
My mother walks into the horizon,
Fire breaks out in the nests,
Trees, laden with the pelts of squirrels,
Turn into scarecrows
The seed sends down another merciless root;
My alembic distills these fairy tales,
Acids, riddles, the danger in flowers;
I must never touch pollen or look
into a watchmaker's shop at twilight.
My journey has been this anchor,
The off-white cliff a sail,
Fowl and dragons play near the shores
My sea-wrecked ancestors left.
I call out to the raven, 'My harem, my black rose,
The clock's slave, keeper of no-man's-land between us.'
And the raven, a tear hung above his massive pupil,
Covers my long hair with petals
Only once did I twist the monotonous pendulum
To enter the rituals at the bottom of twelve seas,
Unghostlike voices curdled my blood, the colour
Of my scorpion changed from scarlet
To scarlet. I didn't mean to threaten you
Or disturb your peace I know nothing of.
But you who live in fables, branches,
And somehow, icebergs, tell me, whose seed I carry.
Canticle For My Son
The dog barks and the cat mews,
The moon comes out in the sky,
The birds are mostly settled.
I envy your twelve hours
Of uninterrupted dreaming.
I take your small palms in mine
And don't know what
To do with them. Beware, my son,
Of those old clear-headed women
Who never miss a funeral.
Where Will The Next One Come From
The next one will come from the air
It will be an overripe pumpkin
It will be the missing shoe
The next one will climb down
From the tree
When I'm asleep
The next one I will have to sow
For the next one I will have
To walk in the rain
The next one I shall not write
It will rise like bread
It will be the curse coming home.