THIRD VIEW OF THE SOUTHERN CROSS
Central India, 1 BC
You must have watched so many battles
And you know what it means
to want too much;
I’m hanging upside down
between the earth
I took for granted
and the sky I dreamed of reaching.
I’ve never feared the rolling dice of war,
but the wheel of life
is spinning backwards now, Trishanku.
The beach has had its tears squeezed out like a sponge,
a vast blank page that just might be
of a fraction
of the first letter
of a book
written in the night that tells me everything.
As I walk towards the distant sea,
each stranded invertebrate becomes a spineless decision
pecked at constantly by the flashing beaks of gulls,
my trailing footprints are selves I’m ashamed of
and the shells unanimous ostracisms.
Complicit water will soon cover all this once more,
but only until this evening’s interrogation.
The gulls arrive for work at dawn,
gliding in grey and white waves to their roofs
until every central building is covered
by the city’s shrieking cerebral cortex,
thousands of wings and ice-cold eyes
acting as a single scaly-legged mind.
If a predator invades the colony,
a tornado of guards spontaneously forms
to drive off the danger with whirling attacks;
it is a kind of consciousness,
but all there is to see are countless moments
of flapping, screeching and raiding.
They all fly back to the coast in the evening,
driven by a single impulse,
feathered neurons in a vast limbic system
sharing their dream of the sound of the sea.
Published in New Critique