A Chapter full of Living Things

It’s the tree,’ said the dryad shortly.
‘What’s it doing?’ said Rincewind.
‘Living.’
    -Terry Pratchett

and the eyes. the fever
of their gaze. being watched.
being smelt

from one haze. being herd
with our-coloured,
our-tongued, our-haired/

head-covered. skin
like one sky
cut out as rubber

sheets. talking
of the same swords,
same haste & honey. tilling

the same loam
& lumber & lamb & loathing.
loathing that volcanoes.

walls & wells
it forms. that which
swells and of which swallows

as ours. now it’s living.
only now it’s
living.

As Spectators to Demolition

They are categorising
what has fallen
from the house.
Plastic is a conglomerate
of colours. Metal shards of suns.
Of wood a consortium
of old and golden: teak, palm, window,
willow, bark, bureau, bundles of
bookends. A ledge
held more than you ever thought
it would. A 50p coin, nail clipper,
potted Tulsi, tape recorder,
a key, nights
and niches of you.
Now barren. Now bloated
with senseless light.
Demolishers weighing
liveries one would don in this drama.
Coastal wind takes
a turn here as if it can come down
and unsee like a blind.
As if barrenness rhymes with
its sound of slicing down
all at once in a guillotine-flash.

Eyes One Lake of the Same Season

Whistling Duck
Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle.   Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle. Whistle.

Purple Moorhen
Screech. Tuk tuk. Screech. Tuk tuk. Screech. Tuk tuk. Screech. Tuk tuk. Screech. Tuk tuk. Screech. Tuk tuk. Screech.     Screech. Tuk tuk. Screech. Tuk tuk. Screech. Tuk tuk. Screech. Tuk tuk. Screech. Tuk tuk.     Tuk tuk. Screech. Tuk tuk. Screech. Tuk tuk. Screech. Tuk tuk. Screech. Tuk tuk. Screech. Tuk tuk. Screech. Tuk tuk. Screech. Tuk tuk. Screech. Tuk tuk. Screech. Tuk tuk.

Spotbilled Duck
Quack. quack. Quack. Quack. Quack. Quack. Quack. Quack. QUACK. Quack. Quack. Quack. Quack. QUACK. Quack. Quack. QUACK. Quack. Quack. Quack. Quack. QUACK. Quack. Quack. Quack. Quack. Quack. QUACK. Quack. Quack. Quack. Quack. Quack. Quack. emsp;  emsp;  QUACK. Quack. Quack. Quack. QUACK. Quack. Quack. Quack. Quack. QUACK. Quack. Quack. Quack.

Bronze-winged Jacana
seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-  -seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek--seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-seek-

Corollary

Migratory birds were shot down between their route from Baikal to Chilika.Lake.

Wall

If not for, when waiting for elevators to down itself,
counting holes of smoke detectors or the sieving seamless walls
or sweeping the helpline numbers to clear the antlers of mist
over the first phone number I memorised, what’s living composed of.
Or the teacher I forgot the name of yet list out the anger of
or urging birds—their feathered forms—to leave the building
I call home wherein they gurgle like roebucks preening
ruins awake with their tongues torpid. These birds manage to
make an aperture of all things that manage to make a wall.
They must assume that the other side of every wall is home.

Widening of NH 17

1.

Acquisition came to occupy
like aalmaram, alamara, alarum
districts of our tongues
that wouldn’t budge but was made to
to accommodate. It became how dinners ended:
a prayer in an adventitious tongue that we intone
to keep us either safe, locked,
exposed, open, whichever might be—enamoured as we are
metamorphosed to moths overnight
buzzing ‘what if that light is what I think it is’
burying what-if-it’s-nots
just happy
to see hope as a serving on a platter.

2.
It also became how the newspaper,
when brewed and downed, made us gaze
beyond our gates
till our eyes turned into bore wells
craving sight.

3.
‘We know selling and buying’,
a he or a she would pronounce, pause,
and, very carefully, place ‘home’ to ward off
a strafe as you position mothballs
on every cupboard of your alamara
like a ‘keep off’ sign.
Old senses in youthful lenses stare at maps,
cleanly cut by asymptotic lines
that mulch and march to either edges of the paper.
A paper can’t always contain the world,
still it cuts and culls ours like a crazed collop-man.

4.
grouped and sub-grouped,
submerged in ourselves,
by what we stand to lose (and not what we own) as in a hospital ward—
I lost my kidney, I lost half of my liver, I lost my tongue, I lost my big toe, I lost my brother, I lost my beginnings, I can’t clot my blood, I can’t clasp my keys, I can’t feel my knees, I can’t remember, I am membered
into many.

5.
Gates. Gardens. Gardenias.
The guava tree. Porches and pot-plants.
Arches and orchards. Corbels
and courtyards. Front-doors and foyers.
A fistful of welcomes. A furlong
of lingering. Where we sat
and planned vacations. Where we potted
anger to harshen. Like those chairs we settled on
and likened the world to—limbed, limping, losing
things they gave homes to.
Where the old woman would stand and sand out her acquisitions to atone for living so long.
The woman who wears her room like her bones counting watermarks on her ceiling than moles on her skin.
A child who comes to cry into an elbow of the tamarind tree. A mynah soaking it up and making it home.
A wanderer who comes to these shoulders to curl and wait for wandering.

6. In place of houses, we picture caves and turn cavemen, feverish, (and eventually futile), in our search to find boulders to seal mouths.
Reaching for roots is hardly what will solve this, acquire means ‘add to possessions’, quirere meaning ‘to search’,
where do you plan to home in grilling through to bedrock, what do you ‘acquire’ by destroying than destroy,
acquisition despite being downed like pills and draped like poultice leaves a stain, a staleness which when animated becomes a giant who wrecks homes as he walks.
Its cupboard doors keep rattling on hinges keeping us awake and insane
in our awakening.
It becomes an alarum that keeps saying what it said before. Wake up so that I can cut you and watch you unbleed into quicksand.
We have to go back perhaps countless times and keep searching so that it forgets the greed, the grating never-enoughness of acquiring and stops at the instant short of finding what it found once in acquisition.
As of an aalmaram that keeps coming back and roots and, endlessly, roots around.

Rahana K Ismail is a poet and a doctor from Kozhikode, Kerala. Her poems have been featured or forthcoming in nether Quarterly, Contemporary Haibun Online, Usawa Literary Review, Verse of Silence, EKL Review, the Chakkar, Alipore Post, Pine Cone Review, and elsewhere.