"The trees do not hold onto these secrets": Five Poems by Priyanka Sacheti on Bengaluru

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"The trees do not hold onto these secrets": Five Poems by Priyanka Sacheti on Bengaluru

Poetry by Priyanka Sacheti on the theme of Bengaluru

Walking in Jogpalya on a January Dusk

An old speckled dog sleeps on a gray hill
beneath a hunchbacked tabebueia tree.
Its leaves are mercury-green but they
contain within a promise of many suns.


A pomegranate seller sits behind
a wall of upturned red pomegranates,
still tasting this morning's
tongue-scalding coffee.
His fingers twirl
around and around
a turmeric-streaked rose,
a dervish planet.


How long will this aqua-teal house stand?
A broken chair and table marooned in its
dust-caked balcony contemplate their bald fate:
their mangled wooden limbs meanwhile eat
up the heat, still.


The last of the day's sunlight is
butter melting on a turmeric wall,
rivulets swimming down
to merge into the earth sea.
Tomorrow, they could be
either rain or sunlight,
who is to tell.

***

The Heartbroken Bathrooms of Bangalore

A black cat has made its bed in
an abandoned bath-tub
beneath the avocado tree
which flowers only once
every two years.

This, after all, is a city of shattered bathrooms:
decapitated domes of commodes
littering the road-sides,
once intimate, now exposed.

Heartbroken bathrooms too,
where an electric-haired girl cries
her broken love away
beneath a monsoon-dark shower
so that her mother listening
outside the bathroom door
will mistake the sea she weeps
for pretend rain.

There were once
two hundred and sixty-one lakes
in this city
but now only sixty are still alive.
Think how angry those ghost lakes must be,
angry enough to flood the streets
and turn them into swollen rivers
where even fish cannot drive.

The black cat meanwhile
naps soundly in her bathtub bed,
overflowing with tired sand.
I must go and ask her though
what is the secret
to her uninterrupted sleep.

***

A Sunday Morning at KR Flower Market

There was a lake here once
and a battlefield too.
Beneath this ersatz garden
now lie buried the mottled remains
of exiled fish and blood rivers.

But the flowers are oblivious,
unencumbered by invisible history.
Transplanted in new soil,
they powerfully command
from their basket fortresses,
secure in their armour of beauty.

Bejewelled lotus buds
dream beneath a
bitter yellow light.
Their pleasure-soft skin
has yet to fight a battle
but that still does not stop
mauve clouds bruising the pink,
an augury of griefs to come.
For these lotuses will learn
the meaning of pain
but in a few hours,
hearing the sound
a wound makes, too.

A man in a sky blue shop
weaves jasmine and rose garlands for
a goddess or a bride
he will never see.
His fingers, deft, electric,
work the flowers well,
knowing their
rhythms by heart.
But if you were to call him a poet,
he would laugh.

Sparrows feast on decaying marigolds
but there are no bees to be seen.
Drunk since dawn,
they now lie supine
inside hearts of discarded
yellow chrysanthemums
that are no longer fit
to be offered to
the gods anymore.

***

The Trees of Cubbon Park

These trees have heard aplenty over the years,
many ripe secrets having found a home
inside their embracing branches.
So many have sought and found refuge also,
unburdening themselves at their braided feet:
secret lovers, almost-mothers, a dying dog,
finding a world to call their own
when there seemed none.
Someone was even born below a tree once:
she calls it her hospital.

The trees do not hold onto these secrets:
they disperse with the wind,
vanish inside a fallen flower
or become a fruit.
We are then eating other
people’s secrets:
we are our own secrets.

***

A Shuttered Shop in Chickpet

The lock is brand-new and they
repainted the doors
cloud-blue only three weeks ago.
There is fresh morning light
in the courtyard too,
leftovers of a dying winter.
But the streets whisper
that the doors will soon be broken,
the walls scalped,
and the ceilings giving away
to a sky full of sun and stars.
Who will weep
for the battered doors?
Who will weep
for the ravaged walls?
And for those
who will gaze at the stars,
night after night,
knowing that there
is no such thing as hope?

***

Priyanka Sacheti is a writer and poet based in Bengaluru, India. She grew up in Oman and has previously lived in the United Kingdom and the United States. Her literary work has appeared in The Brown Orient, Barren, Popshot, The Lunchticket, and Jaggery Lit, and elsewhere. She's currently working on a poetry collection. She can be found as@atlasofallthatisee on Instagram and @priyankasacheti on Twitter.

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