After Ocean Vuong.
Body shocks awake. As if pulled up
by a far-off circadian swell.
As if anticipating good news.
The only kind worth
an early rising.
The price of smoke pumped by a
fresh black market. Polyester sacks
outside a defunct shopping mall
tucked away between dust
The opportunists lied.
Before next-door’s grocery
a hit of tar never harmed
There is so much we mustn’t move outside for.
The weather in Widea’s forecast by my phone
in Hafeezpet. A virtual map pinpoints its unobtainable
expanse across the Mumbai Highway—
a preternatural neighbourhood, with a faerie name.
If I could I would visit Widea and from there
walk home again.
The distance covered—
soles on macadam
beedi, biscuit, tibea of
straw, particulate marrow
A country of locking joints
a country walking home.
The shutters of starvation rattle down faster than infection.
Safety is a village; the journey, a roulette—
beauty is truth
home is health
an exponential spread nothing mandatory
Home beckons, brims over like a bathtub spiked with rose-scented salts.
Setup for a joke for our times—a writer,
an artist, a journalist, a scientist
don’t walk into a bar, but instead
(‘We are all supposedly doing well!’)
The artist is adapting
to the situation. Turning inwards
to a style only his own: unimpeded freefall.
A crystalline new prism, interior-walled.
Empty with hours, cushions of
privilege. Upstairs the neighbours
heave cargo incessantly
across my ceiling.
I wonder what kind
of alternative lives
Life above. Life below. Life on the road.
Me to Widea—
one day I may
think back along the terrain
we need not have
Kathryn Hummel (www.kathrynhummel.com/@katscratchez/friendswithdrinks) is an Australian writer, mixed-media artist and multidisciplinary researcher.
Featured image: Adnan Abidi/Reuters