Poetry at Sangam



CHIMERA by Ranjit Hoskote

(for Adil Jussawalla)

Fear translation. The first verse grows
a red beak, a blade curved and fresh
as the mango it’s about to bite.
The second whips open across the rustling page,
a pair of wings, all-weather kit, cased in steel
feathers, not wax. The third is a snaking tail, de rigueur
in futurist circles (this version isn’t for now, you see,
but for after). So, mid-phrase, mid-sentence, a twitching sierra
on fire. Take a deep breath. Go to the fourth, which slices
what’s left of the stalled air, a sleek black fin.
The eyes open last, and they will never look
at themselves in water. These amber-flecked lenses
are mine, on loan. They’re strong enough to pierce
the walls and roofs of the floating mirage
we call world, and never turn to stone.