This poem portrays the relationship between a person and a city. It is depicted as both complicated and conflicted. What happens when we want to leave a relationship, but somehow find ourselves forced to stay?
I wouldn’t say I live in this city.
Every day it comes
and collides with me.
I had begun to see
that this daily accident
had its funny side.
Years after I arrived
and after several attempts to leave
I decided to unpack my bags.
The city and I had both survived.
Or so we thought.
This morning I took a breath
of city air
and smelt our death.
This is not an abstraction.
I am trying to tell the truth
in simple words.
At night I turn out of sleep
into the smoke of reality.
It’s not Bombay that burns,
but this specific child
screaming behind a bolted door;
this particular man on fire
trapped inside his locked car.
I wish these were imagined things.
I wish I could put them
safely in another poem,
reconcile them with this
paper and this pen
so I could never smell the burning
or hear the breaking glass again.
Copyright © Imitiaz Dharker Postcards from god
Published by Bloodaxe Books, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1997.
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