Agla station — KASHMIRI GATE — hai
Next station is — KASHMIRI GATE

Rini and Shammi’s luscious prophecies slip out of the speakers overhead,
and I am caressed gently out of a drugged dream by spurious sounds.

As the rich timbre of moving metal returns, I adjust my seated body
— straighten, stretch — and look about metro car no. 6.

Any sense of comfortable journeying I carried with me half-asleep is dismantled by a woman
weary of touch, coiled around a silver pole. Her clutch is covered by her perspiring right palm
and her hair needs adjusting, but Woman’s choices have crippling consequences —
risk and arousal risk arousal momentarily.

Wearily Mother watches Son’s virgin-lecherous eyes entwine themselves around silver pole no. 2,
where, inexperienced still, Schoolgirl fails to decipher gaze or avert smiles. Another Mother
smothers her weeping child with impeachable preaching and innocuous hugs, but Child has a
child’s mind: from somewhere someone somewhat sings and careless Child chimes.

Ex nihilo Metro’s ducts create an unnatural breeze and to dimmed car no. 6 bring peculiar ease.
Craving touch, crotch after crotch breathes — tensed muscles release and forget. But, how can I neglect attire? Around me tired feet wear tired footwear and tired fashion accents tired eyes trying to sleep away time —

slips away, slips away silently, all sense of a city being traversed, silently slips…

GREEN PARK station
Doori ka dhyan rakhein
GREEN PARK station
Mind the gap

In metro car no. 6
space shrinks
Man’s gaze
is transfixed
on Another
Man’s digital life

familiar notes erupt
in mechanical time
and how frantically
Another Man
now awake
new mobile
let notifications wait some more
he ruminates

he conspires

Lugging luggage heavier than his heartache, Uncle resolves into restful attention,
but finds no respite for his ancient legs. Brother’s bother not about Uncle’s exhaustion:
No offering in disguise this time — no space to sleep, to shut sorrow’s eyes.
AND I, another brother,
staring solemnly out of the window at the endless passing edifices of concrete,
mutter to myself, “Mother and Measure –
Mother Law and Measure Law –
Mother Love and Measure Love –
thou art translated.”

As Metro slices slithers slips across the expanse of Dilli, meri jaan,
the solace of a midsummer dream surprises me.

Salik Basharat

Salik is a Ph.D. scholar in English at Vanderbilt University. His poetry has appeared in netherQuarterly and Inverse Journal.