Anthology of Contemporary Indian Poetry

Arundhathi Subramaniam

5.46, Andheri Local

In the women's compartment
of a Bombay local
we search
for no personal epiphanies.
Like metal licked by relentless acetylene
we are welded -
dreams, disasters,
germs, destinies,
flesh and organza,
odours and ovaries.
A thousand-limbed
million-tongued, multi-spoused
Kali on wheels.
When I descend
I could choose
to dice carrots
or a lover.
I postpone the latter.

(From Where I Live: New and Selected Poems; Bloodaxe, UK, 2009)

The City and I

(returning to Bombay after 26 November 2008)

This time we didn't circle each other,
the city and I,
hackles raised,
fur bristling.
This time there was space
between us
and we weren't competing.
Space enough and more
for the nose-digging librarian
and her stainless steel tiffin box
for the Little Theatre peon
to read me endless Marathi poems
on rainy afternoons
for the woman on the 7.10 Bhayandar slow
with green combs in her hair
to say
and say again
He's coming to get me
He's coming.
This time
the city surged
towards me

(First published in The Hindustan Times, 2009)