India Calling

By Shikha Malaviya

Song One:
Go you, go you
Fly you bird
Lands outside
Go you Here what is

My love?
That garden mine
Of mind
Is empty

A boat slowly floating
away from Indian coast,
sliver of cardamom biscuit
baking in an orange-rind sun
water blue and green
like the marbles of childhood
journeying into white foam
new home to grow old in
but never comfortable

Song Two:
Oh, one who is going
If it is possible
Do make your way back

He died of depression
he wanted to come back
but when he did
he didn't feel welcome anymore
and he didn't understand things
why the power blacked out ten times a day,
or the air pregnant with particles of cowdung
assaulting his nose
stray pigs sniffing
discarded apple peels and mango skins
on litter-laden streets
it was too new again,
of what was old.
and all his memories
a layer of dust
giving each thing it touched
a golden hue

Song Three:
Oh come my friend
Come back to me To you my songs call out

Will you come back
to the land of your youth
will you come back
to the hills
where British soldiers lay buried
ruminating their sins
will you come back
to their graves
which you dug up
and pissed on for fun
will you come back
bouquet in hand
and make the dead undone

drums sing the hum of hills
synchronized with Shiva's snore
slumber of some memory
a time of before

Song Four:
We, outside, in another land
While in our country
A new moon rises

crates of fruit filled the house
mango, apples, guavas
and clothes stitched for everyone
from the same bolt of cloth
a synchronicity in living
the simple life
eating lentils and rice
garnished with clarified butter

then Sunday feasts of roast and wine
while Hindi music fills the room
India's nightingale is singing
coming, coming, he will come,
one who has to come,will come, will come

Song Five:
Should we mention God
Or should we talk about you instead?

Flitting in and out of temples
makeshift ones that look like churches
God's house never looked the same
even though the stories are
and even a thousand hands
aren't enough to hold all questions
of who we are and what will be

And mother says
what will happen
when we go back?
your father will drag home
mendicants, priests, swamis
like a household cat
bringing in another mouse

and I am imagining
my mother cooking
or ordering the cook
to cook
for strangers
gathered in the name of God
His one of many

Song Six:
Wherever you go
wherever you stay
my shadow will be
but a breath

An arm outstretched
like Michelangelo's cherub
across the hairline fracture
of a continental heart

I'm coming home Ma
to sleep in your lap
and this time I'll stay
your fingers curled in my hair
this time I'll stay
for good