Postcard from Mumbai, March 2003

 

My aunt was still young when the train shuddered— 

wheels skidding into early graves, the shriek 

of broken gears. A hazy elegy, 

a bomb, 

then three. That moment, muted 

and comatose—its seed still asleep

under her tongue, still born

in salted earth, beneath the headstone 

of a tiring before and a bouquet

of tired after—hopelessly pregnant 

with the heartbeat of the faceless, 

the train christened 

in warm blood, unmoving. 

My aunt, 

old now, thinks only of trains, their spines

convulsing in the moonlight. The night always 

a little brighter—burning, burning, burning.

Kanchan Naik

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