Thursday, October 25, 2018

"You Are Not Fine" by Aparna Sanyal

You Are Not Fine
Aparna Sanyal 

Delhi, you are not fine.
Your wrinkles are now splotches on 
your over-made-up face.
I’ve never minded your loud throated 
cackles, your lusty guffaws, 
your broken-pitched stridency, even.
But this reedy phlegm is your voice now,
and my heart is in shards. 
Never one to curb excesses,
I’ve watched you smoke entire chillums dry,
all the while waving bejeweled fingers 
in animated delight.
The purple gem on your finger is plush—
swollen with lavish royalty.
In my night’s sleep, it is a diadem that
encircles my heart, 
pulses light and unfiltered joy. 
You’ve regaled me with tales, woven
a carpet for my dreams to fly on, 
and through it all, your orgiastic 
unashamed beauty 
has stunned me.
Now, you need a tube 
to breathe.
And I sit, hushed by your bedside,
awaiting the next fantastic
tale to fall 
from your fading crimson,
pout-seeping lips. 

Poet’s Notes:  A recent trip to Delhi to visit an ailing relative made this poem write itself. This beautiful city is in shambles. Growing up, I spent my summers there at my grandparents’ home. And just like my grandparents, who were larger-than-life figures, this city too was a grand old dame. But now, there are smoggy streets where once there were abundant trees, and snarls of traffic where there was birdsong. It breaks my heart.

Editor’s Note:  Many cities and towns share the fate of Delhi that Aparna so poignantly and poetically describes here in this moving piece.  I am sure many readers will see a metaphor for grand cities and towns that they once knew that have changed for the worse. 

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