Far from Chagall – Karthika Nair



Montreal: Fall

Tell me it must be the weather
that dyes my mind white, congeals thought –
not meltdown of that myth: Together.
Tell me it must be the weather
not your ire, nor eyes that ether
memory, blaze the words we wrought –
tell me! It must be the weather
that dies: minds in flight can seel thought.


Rome: Winter

We drove to Rome to unreel pride
and pain, staunch the blame, drain dissent,
graft content. The last galactic tide:
we drove to Rome to anneal pride
with ’art and rain. When the Tiber died –
riven blue-black by rage misspent –
we drove from Rome to unreel, ride
the pain, staunch the blame… feign consent.


New Delhi: Spring

As you move into yesterday,
the sky runs copper; trees stain blue
on sleeping earth. But seasons stray
as you move. Into yesterday
spills blood from my breath: I must pay
for the ground sunshine, for these hues.
Then you’ll move into yesterday.
The sky runs copper, stains trees blue.


Rome, the return: Summer

I’ll come alone this time, serene
if songless. I’ll have lambent night
to bathe the pines, restore life’s sheen.
I come alone. This time – serene,
knowing you gone – breathes, slight, between
relief and grief. No wraiths alight.
This time, I come alone: serene,
for the songless have lambent night.



– Far from Chagall was first published in the November 2011 issue of Mediterranean Poetry and The HarperCollins Book of Modern English Poetry by Indians (2012). Published on author’s consent.


Karthika Nair

Karthika Naïr is the author of a poetry collection, Bearings (HarperCollins India, 2009), DESH: Memories, inherited, borrowed, invented (MC2, Grenoble, 2013) and the forthcoming The Honey Hunter (Young Zubaan, India, and Editions Hélium, France). She also scripted DESH, choreographer Akram Khan’s 2012 Olivier Award-winning dance production, together with performance poet PolarBear and Khan himself.

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