in absentia

i seek you in my darkest moments.

at my loneliest, dingiest moments,
when i’m dissipating into everything around me
not bothering to gather myself
sans locus.

you are at the depth of my self-pity.
my very worst.
you are what i fear i will fall into
if i give in to my mediocrity.
you are what pulls me out of it.
you are what i hope for.

how can i explain that without
falling into the worst kind of rhetoric?
i suppose you believe in reincarnation
(i don’t).

would that explain the kind of
familiarity i feel for you?
the intimacy with which i know
your laughter, your fingers, the bumps on your head?

would that explain
the cruelty of my gaze,
my rejection of you,
my refusal to engage even in
the most perfunctory eye contact?

it’s inconsistent to reduce it
to something so physical as lust:
but your body draws me to you,
and i make fiction
of everything else.



A poem in the Scribbler's wonderful new exhibition, 'Home'. 



translating a folk song i just heard in gujarati:

salt eats up our land.
it eats the shade, it eats the trees

our days are spent in the sun. 

if this wasn't enough,
we turn to the sea for work

our sweat is salt, our blood is salt
even our labour is salt. 


a song by the maliya mahila shakti sanghatan: a women's collective of fisherwomen in maliya - the coast along saurashtra, gujarat.

women whose lands have turned salty because of excessive (legal and illegal) salt extraction pans; whose livelihoods, dependent on farming and prawn harvesting have both been taken away from them because of land grabbing and change in soil quality because of salt pans, and climate change has affected how freshwater meets seawater, so prawn harvesting is less and less profitable. even where it's profitable, it's monopolized by large contractors who sell to cities and companies.