After a long day at school,
my mother smells of chemistry labs –
rotten eggs, lemons and vinegar,
of wonders born from test tubes.
At home, noble gases, like celestials,
float around her, without names.
Years later, she confided in me:
are hormones when they make love
are chlorides whey they cry
and esters when they die.
Nowadays, when my grandmother sees
a black cat on the wall—
my mother consoles herself,
it’s some chemical gone astray.
I look up the periodic table to disagree—
it is death in disguise.
For his country’s freedom
the man immolated himself.
his charred body
but his tortoise amulet
tied to his wrist
so that he may live
a hundred years.
Sometimes, another’s memory,
becomes your own.
In 1992, you saw pines in California.
Those trees have grown since then;
and their needles have changed color.
But their scent you brought along,
still perfumes my cupboard.
In the mountains of Dharamshala,
you photographed a bee-line of houses–
small granite walls with blue doors,
their windows that ascend diagonally.
I stare through them, to see
this world through your eyes.
I keep watch on your memories,
only to become their safe keeper.
A monastery mourns the
death of its Master
in black mountain robes.
Incense and mist
fog around his body
like the halo of afterlife.
A woman carries
a fistful of marigolds
as her last offering,
which now withers away
at his feet,
like his now forgotten
Like a Chinese monk lost to his thoughts,
he goes to buy a croissant
with a book of verses to read along.
As he returns, a leaf turns
yellow and falls.
The half-eaten croissant slips,
and raisins break free to
scatter like prayer beads.
Autumn has arrived –
About the Author
Ardra Manasi is a poet and a development practitioner based in New York City. Her poems have been featured in journals and anthologies in US, UK and India, including India’s National Academy of Letters (Sahitya Akademi), Parentheses Journal, Silk and Smoke, The Palm Leaf, Narrow Road, Bengaluru Review, and Art in the Time of COVID-19 (San Fedele Press). In 2020, her poems were part of an international online exhibition “IGNITE – From Within the Confines,” that brought together artists and poets to reflect on the COVID-19 pandemic. On Twitter, she is @ArdraManasi.