पृथिव्यापस्तेजो वायुराकाशमिति भूतानि
—Nyāya Shastra 1:1:13
You are not this. The body you now wear will tear like silk. Khuda spoke, Be— and you were a blue expanse, sinew moored to bone. This house of stone and mortar already falls apart. Inside your chest a swan will silhouette against the sun— Who looks up whose body flies above, shadow blackening the earth, wings beating as a heart? //
A flute knifes its breath until mid–photic zone an ink cloud distorts any sense of shade, or light. These boulders weep and I too have become stone, igneous, pōhaku singing volcanic song, scree pierced by airshifts: vent and koholā spout, parasitic zone of ash in fast dry, and my music splintering into sand of gold, gold sand of coral and bivalve bones. The miserere nobis caught in a humpback’s cranial sinus porpoises its tone for miles. Sprung of darkness: air and sound. //
This morning the sun summons green into leaves. Come fall, they burn in reds, yellows, oranges—until, brown, they release themselves to dust. You marry around a flame, you will burn as an offering in the end. Your pyre’s trees, woody now, thick in their past lives’ thickets. But for now, light a clay lamp— At noon your skin darkens then smolders into white. //
Speak, so this month of monsoon blows into deluge. Look, your torn veil cries out in the shehnai’s voice, snagged on a thorn or under Krishna’s foot—that villain. The clay pot you carry on your head he smashes with a hurled stone, and look, your sari floods— Naked footed, you dance on the potsherds. The Jamuna is now swollen, is now dry. The blue god haunts the air— a storm gathers as music. You are a clay vessel that breaks, sweet water called back to cloud. //
The foot’s drum, a spinning body, hand molded into breath, dissolves into carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and phosphorus. And what composes the thrum of the beating heart— chemical or alchemical? What the skin envelops, a star-nova, a universe expands and contracts— Don’t you know this phrase, this larynx, is clay? Even the reed at your lips that drinks your breath springs from the same soil that you return to.