(Photo of Adithya Patil)
Of Birds, Dark
Tiredness is inebriation, my father
tells me, drunk on a December night.
He's talking to himself again, so I suppose
I'll step out to the moonlit garden, tiptoe
maybe, on the large pebbles arranged
so delicately and watch as
the bats, which are the little birds
of the night, beat away in flocks of three.
Hear the wind, my friend, listen in.
But don't ever listen to the birds,
They always speak the same.
They all speak like you.
Where the last pebble finds its cold end,
I light a Charminar by the fig and hope
that there aren't any children around.
Oh, how could there be?
After all, when there is darkness,
nobody is a child. My lips warm to
the moment as these thawed lungs recycle
the warmth, ah, and why are there trees?
I blow in square pockets, in affection
for the sky, and give the clouds a brother.
These also are cycles of nature, I think,
only nurtured and more sublime.
The cigarette embers his own little sun,
the wrong breeze coughs on my shoulder.
A strange softness has infused the garden,
now bereaved, the day dawns against me.
This is April, my friend and not December.
It is time that I quit lying to you.
I am my father, not drunk or tired,
just withered, like the tulips I forgot to water.
Today, the Sunbirds, which are the scrawny
bats of the day, chirp when they see me.
When upon the horizon, great clouds descend
in square pockets of blown smoke.
He only walked into the moment,
because there was nowhere else to go,
and so once again, there came the need to settle.
Unsure of himself and his tread,
he stepped across to the edge, and felt
the wall, which was a colour he had no name for.
There were pillars too, plastered
in that same color, and a low ceiling,
or was it the sky?
He has been here before, far
too many times, each time surprised
by how puzzled he is at the lack of windows.
He knows exactly what shall come. An unerring
emptiness will sweep this place, the pillars ravage
the walls fall, and only he would be left unchanged,
throbbing an uncertainty that will fidget
within himself, looking about, desperate
for another moment to enter.
Think of cold fruits— square cut watermelons,
uncut mosambis, spoiling sapotas.
Then of the fridge— snowy white light, cold air swirling around,
an electric coldness borne in stoic silence:
as winter trapped in a box, as winter always.
Everything goes dark, they say,
When the doors are closed.
Strange liquids wait inside, among blunt icebergs
and a family of four fossilized cockroaches.
Leave the fridge alone, they'll tell you,
That's enough. But who knows listening?
When midnight arrives, you will crouch yourself
by the sink and watch
as four cold inhabitants crawl across the floor,
into the lurid, dry lights of the prayer room.
© Adithya Patil
Bio: Adithya Patil is a student, poet and photographer based in Bangalore, India. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in various journals including 'Borderless Journal', 'Literary Yard', 'Scarlett Leaf Review' and 'The Drabble' among others. He was also selected for the 2019 Times Scholar Program.