Skip to content

Ari Sitas

Two Delhi Poems

ari sitas vasudhaCourtesy Vasudha Thozhur, Himmat Project, Embroidery on fabric, 2005


Easter Dawn

The peacock-shrieked first light
And the grey leaves hiding the caking plaster
and tin, shiny tin
atop a wall, caking wall, with the stains of holi colour splashed searching for the ray
to snap the day awake with the first car’s horn
peculiar Delhi dawn with the imam’s voice aiming West
as if the city is still searching for a soul
still searching for a threadbare lie
to hide the unforgiving slums
ginger, knuckles of garlic in a pan
as if to hide the wafts of cabbage, rotting mulch
that the cows chew for cud
as the grey smog steams up the cowpats
Is it an offering to the heart’s new spring
An awakening from a winter of the deepest discontent
Where each star was dabbed green by anti-nationals?

The sun will surely rise


Human Maintenance

There is a man
I am told
Who records the unclaimed dead
Who photographs each corpse found in the city
Who creates a file
Who creates a record if you please
In case someone one day comes to claim
And he is anxious because there is no rule
Of what to do:
Is he obliged to make a copy of the dead face
Or is he to make a copy for the claimant if and only if she pays
And it is untested because in the thousand and fifty nine files with faces
and descriptions that he writes with neat and ornate hand-writing
— in case someone else one day takes on his job —
no one has come to claim a face

He often hesitates at the thought
Of someone saying that he should have not ripped
out the image from the corpse
He should have only kept a photo of the living
And a description of the words she said
The day before she died as if that was ever possible.

You never know with people, they sometimes care.