Dilli, for me, always comes before. I have never called it Delhi, that word being so cruelly empty of lilt. It always occupies the past, even when its present I cannot but inhabit. It is the strangest city I’ve been in, and the one I’m in love with most irredeemably. This poem is probably an inauguration – of the rest of my life of attempted returns.




The city ends in strangeness.


The road coils around

the flag that tries

to lick the stratosphere,

gives up bemused


The grey river purrs,

and howls, and curls up

into stories

the rainbow and silver

being river no more.


In the fog

between thought and thought,

the city comes apart sighingly;

into time and time and time and time

tied up like wires:

live, spitting fire


Agha says:

it’s December


and my city sleeps in strangeness.




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