Going back to Delhi feels like reopening a wound.
All I can taste is the skin salt and waterlogged pungency,
the air pregnant with memory /
the air swallowed by cacophony.
A street seller bares his teeth whilst he barters his heart,
his voice buried in the damp between traffic and everymen.
his soul haggled for cayenne /
his spine folded in quarters again.
I see the defeat clinging to fingernails before I see faces here,
the city is a listless old man draped in a congested cloak of clamor.
Hunger cleaved in children’s stammers /
hunger smashed into faces with hammers.
Somewhere in this city, the three men who assaulted me
have found a happiness that as yet eludes my existence.
What is bygone cannot be fooled by distance /
happiness is best preserved by dissonance.
Somewhere in this city, the man who murdered my friend
visits the temple more than he ever visited the police station
I hope he prays out of contrition /
that to God at least he gives his confession.
There are five hundred and ninety temples in this city,
where no one sees how the land has been drowned in blood,
where some were forever lost in the flood /
where home is a memorial made of mud.
Nikita Gill has been published in Literary Orphans, Agave Magazine, Monkeybicycle, Dying Dahlia Review and elsewhere. Her poetry anthology Wild Embers has been published by Hatchette Books.