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Month: May 2021

For My Mother, That Baby and Father Stan Swamy

The day my mother calls
to confess she’d woken in tears
(she still misses her mother, 
after so many years),
I am blessed to meet
a six-week-old baby girl;
drunk on her mother’s milk,
she smiles as she sleeps
sprawled on a charpai,
like a pehlwan
after a hard-won match.
Later that night,
I read that Stan Swamy
can no longer walk or bathe
or even feed himself,
and how he’s told the court
he does not prefer a hospital
to Taloja Jail; he prefers
to suffer and die in prison—
or to go home:
Whatever happens to me, 
I’d like to be with my own.’
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News in Review

-Delhi, May 15

१.
Our PM works hard
on his palace and speeches;
‘Let’s be positive.’

Vaccine centre’s closed;
an old woman asks, ‘How long?’
‘Try again at dawn.’


२. 
Amit Shah’s police
have withdrawn from Delhi streets;
still the sirens wail. 

They locked up our friends,
but did not send oxygen:
we will not forget.

३.
Far from the city,
neighbors die of breathlessness;
something is not right.

Bodies float downstream:
this is not a metaphor,
just friends we couldn’t save.

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Delhi Emergency 10 p.m.

Outside the emergency 
department doors, 
a woman sobs 
as she clings 
to a trembling, 
straight-backed man.
As we pass them, 
everything shakes:
the smoky clouds, 
the hospital walls—
bushes, flowers, trees—
the footpath
under our feet.
These two are holding up 
a piece of the sky tonight;
              it has broken, 
                                 I know 
    you can feel it.

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In Front of the Chemist,

one man cuts the distanced queue
to buy a tube of toothpaste;
we shake our heads,

but in this heat, 
who has the strength 
to shout?

Some time later,
another man approaches,
and says in a shaking voice:

Please, I need two face 
shields, pleaseI must go to the hospital now.

We shuffle our feet and bow 
our heads; for once,
we’re all glad to give way.
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