From Shadows To The Stars

The moon is pale as buttermilk, watered
down to feed me in school. Oil-stained walls
crumble as I stuff infinity in my mouth. One
stone a year fills my body, engorges pathways
I essay every day through fetid night soil.

There is sand on the bed, hands tremble
as I carve a wedge of dirt from the fingernail —
particles that compose soul leak from a hole
that remains unvisited like the brick house
at the peripheral colony in my home town.

Birds fill my mouth, stir air in the lungs,
levitate vapour of existence that I see hover
above heads of palm trees framed
by the window – a scrap of paper, letters
scrawled like ants they stamp under their feet.

In the dark space between words I hold a torch
for my mother to examine blue toenails,
black calluses, whorls that once mesmerised –
pathways she consulted to map a horoscope
now a poem unwriting itself on the paper.

The book is on the floor face down, arms
splayed, pages like clumps of hair tugged.
My spine broke, among other body parts
as I flung from the chair — I have known
nothing of anatomy, only of distant stars.


The title of the poem is borrowed from Rohith Vemula’s suicide note. The poem is a response to his tragic death.

You can read the full text of his suicide note in The Indian Express. For more about Rohith Vemula and his death, see the Wikipedia.

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