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.