Two Poems

By Shilpa Dikshit Thapliyal

1. Custodians of our Stories

Night arrives, bare foot, slathers the ledge of our window.
Buds of hibiscus fall, shrivelled by the pitch dark.

Begum Apa sits on her couch, as we gather around her.
The Persian rug feels warm under our glacial juvenile skin.

Apa flickers a candle to our faces, “our graves are dug.”
Our breaths scan the room, in search of temporary lodging.

She calmly gathers our tongues, raw in her white napkin,
shoves them in a brass trimmed chest. She stares past

our almond eyes to the labyrinth of fireflies.
Hours ascend into saturnine shadows, inaudible, vacant,

unaware of histories. We glance at the brass inlay on Cedar wood,
silently assuring us of their place- Custodians of our stories.

2. Chrysalis on Sale:

to be swallowed whole,
sheared off flesh and bones,
dreams silt to sandpaper coasts,
as if the looming day has no light,
as if nascent nocturnal hours
are swollen against full moon nights.
Terror cleaves mist laden wings,
they flutter, only to be swallowed,
again and again.
Carcasses in wet darkness,
burdened by whimpering air
are assembled on display shelves.

Somewhere, everyday,
in murmurs of desert rain
and hymns of rolling streams,
leaves sprout on the bough,
sprightly tendrils unfurl
under crimson cosmic rays,
rivers inscribe rugged mountains,
and trees unfelled for centuries,
with metre long roots,
are holding hostile terrain,
waiting, watching,
for cimmerian wings
to expand this verdure,
snatch their luminous selves
from talons of the wild,
and finally be airborne.

Shilpa Dikshit Thapliyal is a bilingual poet from Singapore. She is a Pushcart 2021 nominee (Shot Glass Journal ) and recently released her second poetry collection ?Between Sips of Masala Chai?(Kitaab International, 2019). Her poems have been featured in QLRS? , Yearbook of English Indian Poetry-2021, OF ZOOS?, ‘atelier of Healing’, Shot Glass Journal, Taj Mahal Review, Anima Methodi , Asingbol, Unmasked- Reflections on Virus Times? amongst other anthologies and journals. Some of her poems written in Hindi have been translated into Spanish. She has read poetry in Malaysia, Mumbai, Australia and USA.

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