Three Poems

Nidhi Krishna

2021

August Twenty-Twenty

This has been the longest not-August,
the unwieldy-est still-March, my windows fogged with tomorrow’s forecast and
the receipts of the past. I wish

for nothing in particular. A return seems unimaginable, but an un-return sends my trembling fingers to the
blurred edges of time. I am asked

to let go, so instead I sit at the ledge
with a hand dangling outside, collecting rain for warmer days, when perhaps

we will lie – backs flat – against the yellowed
grass and laugh about the year we thought

the world was going to end
again and again.

*

panthers in the city

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*

two winters in Dilli

i
dust is being / crumbling skylines
ginger my tea / the ash

lingers in my mouth / roof thick with
grime and pigeon feather /

in the winter of our bones / a future of decay /

ii
February / they come preying in broad / battered sunlight
the roar of orange-blue flames drowning out the
dying embers of a working man’s firewood in the
harshest of winters /

toes twirling into the down of the rajai
we mull over the Air Quality Index / we joke
soon we will be wearing masks in the living room

crumbling skylines pepper my plate /

iii
it is October / fingers snagging like wool / pink against
hair / we stumble into the pharmacy / a man eyes a

packet of sanitary pads fearfully / his mask a bird
perched precariously on the bough of his chin/ we
escape soon enough / snickering / grins drowned out
by the noise of cotton/

names snag in our throats /

in the winter of our bones, decay /
we shimmer / oblivious /
blue and bright in the wind / thick with
grime and pigeon feather /

love in the time of –

iv
what happened last February?

v
dust is being / the plague floods the plains and the
plague carries us away / but this city remains /

vi
what is a February?

vii
what is a pogrom?

viii
toes twirling into the down of the rajai /
you reach across

thumb the tip of my nose / i sniff
the lingering stench of a crumbling
skyline /

ix
in the winter of our bones / desecration /

god buried herself under the fractured minarets
and its mortar settles white and flaky on our scalps /
a reminder of the losses we do not number /

x
i count every day we stay apart /

xi
i stop counting /

xii
what is dust?

xiii
it is November /

i don’t balk at the taste of crumbling
skylines anymore /

i am too busy burning the rajai that
has stiffened in your absence /

its ash settling smog on my shoulders /

***

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