By Salil Chaturvedi
It's hard going to the marsh with her.
It's mid-day. We are at my secret
place and the white lilies are in bloom.
It seems I am on the edge
of a petaline galaxy, but not Meena.
‘when you are desireless you are at the perfect spot always’
[egret faces the sun and walks
down the marsh
with its wings outstretched]
Meena says, 'Each white flower is the soul
of a trampled girl. You must collect the seeds
and throw them in many lakes.'
No, they're not. They're white lilies, Meena.
But she will have none of it. 'They could also be
liquid songs of tribal teenage girls sprouting from the dark depths
of the void.'
‘the formation of sentences is just like the formation of hills’
near a small tuft of grass
making loud cackling noises]
But they're not, Meena. This is not a lake.
These are white lilies. Those are dragonflies.
That is a bumblebee. This coconut-lined road that encircles
the marsh is used by miners to carry the sand from the Mandovi
and that is a cormorant and here are lesser-whistling ducks and
these are bronze-winged jacanas and sitting on that rock is a snake
bird. That is what all this is.
These are white flowers, Meena, and not the lost smiles of
'How naive you are,' she says, 'I thought you knew
how these things worked.'
‘it's not right to bring everything into language’
[egret takes off
leaving a trail of droplets
falling into the water]
Photo credit: Salil Chaturvedi
Salil Chaturvedi’s short fiction and poetry have appeared in numerous journals, including Wasafiri, Guftugu and Indian Cultural Forum. He is the Asia-region winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Competition, 2008, and he won the Unisun/British Council Short Story Award in 2009. He also won the Wordweavers Poetry Contest in 2015. His debut poetry collection titled, In The Sanctuary Of A Poem, was released at the GALF, 2017.