previous | next

Annotation to the Ustad’s Treasury of Verses
No poems, really, from the Ustad’s middle period.
Just a few notations he’d left to brew.
Her ivory comb. A strand of wool torn free
by a trailing fingernail, redder than any gulmohur.
Jade bowls standing on a smoke-blackened shelf.
In the window, the river’s spilt silver.
A tortoiseshell cat playing on the doorstep.
And, cancelled in a rage of strokes,
the grey-eyed sitarist drowning, out of earshot.

Just this broken song, suggesting he had chosen
to tarnish his rhymes with a warmer breath
than the court would permit. He sings
of his draggled woollen coat, his winters
spent in a potter’s kiln, roofed in colour
by fickle skies, the river a shrivelled skin of ice,
the wildcat his one companion, the drum and blast
of rain his only music: he’s begun, already, to hear
the perfect cadence beaten on the heart’s shattered anvil.