Steady, one leaves early morning
leaning on the mute skin of stiff toes,
appearing calmer than blue-morning skies,
pouring spent sighs into wicker baskets,
collecting softer versions of cold skin (picking
dorsal layers of loveless hands)
to get away from—
that on freckled face of yester-night’s darkening outline
one could smell feathers of the day amputated,
one could trade impatience for delirium
with no worrisome faces gathering dust, one
could face pregnant gusts
of spring air (carrying seeds of
monsoonal atrocities) in unbuttoned shirts—
say, of possibly claiming men are made of
images growing like moss on dampened walls;
say, of tracking thoughts back
to the origin of their abandoned pulpits;
say, of trading words for the fleece of moonlit faces.
The maple shadow of his absence blossoms
over the courtyard—how I vainly
wished waters to taste of salt and gravel—branching,
with leaves spread over possessed hands—their
green loathsome with a horror feeding on
bloodshot eyes, corroding sunlight
with the autumn of their fearless reckoning,
dirtying air with little that their breathing exhales!
The maple shadow of his absence blossoms.
One shall, then return to the ghostly cities
of ruin riding on hunchback
horses of fading memory to ascertain what, in the
rubble growth of uncounted years
if there were a street as such, where,
far back as eyes could see
entombed feet would describe the sojourn,
the depths of each turn one would stumble
upon measuring scales and learn
all this distance was, in-fact
a threadbare path leading to our return, from
that morning to the evening before that.
Ashfaq Saraf is based in Delhi, writing from Kashmir. His collection of poems The Harkening was published in 2012. He slaves during most part of the day in Semiconductor Industry as Design Engineer to earn dinner and bills, before proceeding to gnaw at unfinished pages for the rest of the night.