Thirst

— Sandip Bhattacharya

The ash-dry hills of Gorman
Have given way to mirages
In the rear-view mirror
When she asks,
Are we happy now?
He cannot tell which
Of the words bear weight
The query just floats there
Between them
Among the dancing dust motes
And exchanged exhalations
Unheeding of the road they travel,
Which lies flat and straight like
A steamrolled question mark.
Where to begin? Where
Does it end anyway?
Last night the wind had come
Rushing in from the west
Rattling the roof tiles
Wailing against the windows
Looking for the howl in his heart
And today, these wastelands of
Desert want – arid arroyos and
The sere, brittle sagebrush.
He would bury the question in time,
But time, too, has dripped and slipped
Through the cracks of this alkali earth.
So it journeys with them: a hitch-hiker
Unwilling to be let off.
Symbols of hope are scarce today
The moon had set before the wind arose
The sun wiped away the stars and then
Erased itself from the dirty sky.
This will have to do then – a sycamore
White with age and leafless, clinging
To a crumbling bank where water
Had flowed, must flow again:
Each of its branches, each fork
A search
The sap seeking through each season
Yet again, another, unambiguous
Metaphor.

One thought on “Thirst

  1. There’s so much to love in this poem: the suggestions buried in ‘the ash-dry hills’; ‘like a steamrolled question mark’…Looking for the howl in his heart: the unvoiced coyote. Such an elemental setting, the sun ‘wiped away the stars and erased itself’–marvelous tone setting.One query: I often debate the 1st person/ 3rd person question. Did you try it with "I" rather than "he"? It’s hard (for me) sometimes to know which way to go. Any thoughts–specific to this poem, or in general?

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