Poetry at Sangam



RAIN by Anjum Hasan

You will hear it waking to the roar of a ceiling fan,
in the rustling of dry palm leaves, in pebbles
pouring from a lorry onto the dusty street.
You will hear it in the last aeroplane of the night
(whose sound you will mistake for thunder),
in the alphabets of the birds, in indignant pressure cookers.
You will look for it in the evening, searching for one cloud
among tremendous shadows, and at night when it might come
from a great distance and touch the city with a new light.

You won’t find it in the few grey leaves of March
or behind the thin red crescent burning itself out
on a fevered patch of sky. Your hair will
grow electric with the dry heat of the day,
your dreams shot through with the silver lightning
of monsoon nights, the blue-green nights celebrated
by crickets, the mountain nights where fate
is linked to umbrellas.

But Venus’ eye is clear here.
You will look for it in refrigerators at night,
slice water-melons with its taste on your tongue –
unfeeling, red-hearted fruit – and buy cucumbers in despair.
You will almost forget the sadness of mist, but remember
how quickly mirrors darkened and streets turned grim,
and wait for the same blanket to be fastened over the sky
and change the quality of this harsh, unvarying light.

Always the ‘where’ of where you are is a place in the head
established through skin, and you recognise the address
not in numbers or names but through familiar patterns
of bird-song, traffic, shadows, lanes.

And when you go away only envelopes speak of
the city where everyone thinks you now stay.
For the expectation of the senses remains the same,
for years remains the same: bewildered by dry winds
in April, aching for rain.