Size / / /

The thelawallah’s cart resembles a war field:

his carrots blaze like Red Fort
but his radishes come
with a cool shade of leaves.

I swallow my spit—suppressing
the desire to eat the street.

"Whoosh! Whoosh!"

a little shehzada pulls ahead of me
fighting djinns and rakshasas
clearing the road to Fatehpuri.

On both sides:
an infection of crumbling sights
plague old refurbished buildings

—a dirty tricolored flag sprouts
from the rot like a peepal tree.

On a shaky rooftop

a young photographer adjusts his tripod
while his friend points her lens
to the old city from the edge of her seat:

Shahjahan’s drunk elephants
are marching the open road
to be partitioned into two countries.

I burn my field notes with my father’s remaining skin:

his relatives are always eating
off leaf plates washed with haoma
and stitched with funeral pins.

The ghat is across the border.
(The border is always sealed.)



Salik Shah is the founding editor of Mithila Review. His poetry, fiction, and nonfiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Strange Horizons, Asimov’s Science Fiction, and Juggernaut, among other publications. You can find him on Twitter: @salik.
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