You will hear it waking to the roar of a ceiling fan,
in the rustling of dry palm leaves, in pebbles pouring
from a lorry onto the dusty street. The lips of the warm
wind, trapped between scaffolding and terrace, will
whisper soundless words of memory through
the window’s grating. You will hear it in the last aeroplane
of the night (whose sound you will mistake for thunder),
in the alphabets of the birds, in indignant pressure
cookers. Your thirst will be vast as the sky. You will look
for it in the evening, searching for one cloud among
tremendous shadows, and at night when it might come
from a great distance and touch the city with a new light.
You won’t find it in the few grey leaves of March
or behind the thin red crescent burning itself out
on a fevered patch of sky. Your hair will grow electric
with the dry heat of the day, your dreams shot with
the silver lightning of monsoon nights, the blue green
violet nights celebrated by crickets, the mountain nights
where fate is linked to umbrellas, and feeling to the
violent hours that clatter on those heights.
But Venus’ eye is clear here. You will look for it
in refrigerators at night, slice water-melons with
its taste on your tongue—unfeeling, red-hearted fruit—
and buy cucumbers in despair. You will almost forget
the sadness of mist, but remember how quickly mirrors
darkened and streets turned grim, and wait for the same
blanket to be fastened over the sky and change
the quality of this harsh, unvarying light.
Always the ‘where’ of where you are is a place in the
head, established through skin, and you recognise
the address not in numbers or names but through familiar
patterns of bird-song; traffic, shadows, lanes.
And when you go away only envelopes bear the name
of that tiny dot of geographical space where everyone
knows you now stay. For the memory of each of the
body’s ancient senses remains the same, for years
remains the same: bewildered by dry winds in
April, aching for rain.