The stories you haven’t told me, are the ones
I miss most.
In trains, scant moonlight becomes my only alibi
to not look out and picture those silver splinters
lodged in your heart.
Old family tales gather
at the bottom of a well.
Here, Grandfather dropped his watch. Tell me.
What was he wearing?
What was that peculiar smell on his clothes?
Do you have a word for it? Any of it? Tell me.
That mole on his left cheek – did it
twitch, its three thin hairs sprouting
like black fountain.
Did his favourite book sprawl beside him,
like a universe he lost to yellow curtains
and a red, shrivelled sofa.
Tell me, did his fingers carry the smell of peas he peeled?
Fingers thin enough to drop a burning cigarette butt.
His green sweater has holes
as big as cat’s eyes.
Did he yell, shout, scream,
his head in mother’s arms
his head an oyster resisting to vomit its
one final secret
of blood and breath.
What time was it? We would never know.
So then we gather here each day,
of hardened sand
where we buried
a memory fox
after slaying it
with belief and innocence.
Sometimes Do You Remember does nothing
except sitting quietly in the room. A carcass of a green
hot water bag. A chipped, white plate. Brown socks we forgot to discard,
while returning pale body to blue sky –
These shall come to use
when mud congeals into memory
and he appears on our windowsill as
words written in mist.
*Appears in Sahitya Akademi’s anthology on contemporary Indian poetry, titled 21st Century Indian Poetry in English (Jan: Feb 2017, Edited by AJ Thomas)