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.
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.)