Poetry at Sangam



NINTH LIFE by Menka Shivdasani

When it is time
to lay the papers down,
there will be no bells,
no clanging in the corridors.
Your breath will leave,
like a cockroach stealing out at night.

And should it be long-drawn instead,
you may watch them crawl out through the door,
an army of ant-breaths carefully balancing
the sugar crystal of your life.

In your antiseptic chamber, wait,
grit your teeth at the IV drip,
watch the serum fall.
Let the pallid taste of sleep slide on your gums
and the drug-cloud on the eyelid dribble in.

Try to ignore that spoilsport pulse
with its throbbing, twanging din
against your bone.

In this quiet room,
not a cockroach is in sight,
nor a single ant
biding its time in the dark.

(First published in www.bengalights.com)