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Before This
Before I come over to your place
and I see you reading
in the courtyard sunshine,
– the novel that I’ll touch in the afterglow of your reading;
(in the light of a falling star, another star has to fall) –
Before my fever soars to 107, reading.

This woman
who embroiders the beauty
of earth’s poisonous flowers on her scarf
who hides a deranged thickening all the way to her ankles
Before letting even a hint of touching this woman cross my eyes.

Whatever is clamouring to be spoken aloud,
or that windbag in a play riddled with silences –
Love or metaphor or doom or smoke or Manikarnika ghat
Before these fake catalogues, these feignings come to an end

Before the churning of these lines or those
or the nick of some Zen haiku
or the fresh wound of your saying no

Before everything here begins to suffuse the spirit
with an illusion of insight.

Before this before begins to mean
I don’t even want to lift a single grain
to see if the rice is cooked.

This is my kitchen, Badri Narayan.