By Rajesh Mishra
As a dying man’s last breath
coming deep from his burning bowels
the earth was gasping heat.
The scratched skin
loose surface of pebbles and dust
whirled by summer eddies of desolation
stretched as a metal beaten to sheets
with weariness and defeated expectation
the wind carried the old man’s voice
dry, disjointed, breaking into its elements,
even as it was uttered,
a polonium of despair—
Yet that crackle remained with him
long after he had passed
the old dying leper on the street
his trembling hands outstretched,
his skin hanging off his body
like the weathering bark of an aged tree,
his face puffing with sores
as though everybody’s sin
had broken upon him as a pestilence,
and his lips moving, ever so slightly
slowly, tortuously, forming the syllables.
The old man was a graveyard
deep within the soul
which opened up suddenly
one day in bright daylight
and stared at him.
Tiny, tottering creatures;
black, feral, sharpening their teeth
against wood, paper and soil.
The rodent moments
that eat into us,
and leave us all blood-splattered
orphans on a dying street.
and then the rain…