To Sridala Swami and Winter 2014–15
She says yesterday’s faded-denim sky
of many washes
brought down leaves that
were not choked with dust.
My sky today was a crumpled khakhi
with dirt like the Sirocco’s,
but in still air, without its strong breeze,
only its dust.
Her dust-free leaves flew around,
settled on the ground, were
picked up again,
by the wind, and made
patterns, did rounds.
No current moves the cloud
settled over our heads here.
The leaf my nephew picks up, and navigates
around with, playing with it like a plane
in his hand, will not lose that
Delhi is one thick haze
of that cheap opium den,
where everyone’s an addict
of toxic scum.
26 March 2015
WHAT IS THE COLOUR OF THIS SKY?
Is it the dirty yellow of an alcoholic’s piss?
Would you call this the grimy brown of dry sods of earth?
Does it match the stained phlegm of my chain-smoking friend?
Is it the dour grey of the smoke left in the wake of Diwali rockets?
Does it remind you of the mushroom clouds after the bombs in Aleppo?
It is heavy, it smells, it makes my nose twitch and swell, and my eyes water,
and overtakes my senses such that I no longer can tell my colours, even the greens
on view from my window appear military.
3 November 2016, in Sonipat, close to Delhi.