Far from Chagall

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Montreal: Fall

Tell me it must be the weather

that dyes my mind white, congeals thought –

not meltdown of that myth: Together.

Tell me it must be the weather

not your ire, nor eyes that ether

memory, blaze the words we wrought –

tell me! It must be the weather

that dies: minds in flight can seel thought.


Rome: Winter

We drove to Rome to unreel pride

and pain, staunch the blame, drain dissent,

graft content. The last galactic tide:

we drove to Rome to anneal pride

with ’art and rain. When the Tiber died –

riven blue-black by rage misspent –

we drove from Rome to unreel, ride

the pain, staunch the blame… feign consent.


New Delhi: Spring

As you move into yesterday,

the sky runs copper; trees stain blue

on sleeping earth. But seasons stray

as you move. Into yesterday 

608 Rome in Summer

spills blood from my breath: I must pay 

for the ground sunshine, for these hues.

Then you’ll move into yesterday. 

The sky runs copper, stains trees blue.


Rome, the return: Summer

I’ll come alone this time, serene    

if songless. I’ll have lambent night

to bathe the pines, restore life’s sheen.

I come alone. This time – serene,

knowing you gone – breathes, slight, between

relief and grief. No wraiths alight.

This time, I come alone: serene,

for the songless have lambent night.   



Born in Kerala, Karthika moved to Paris in 2000. HarperCollins India published Bearings, her first collection of poems, in June 2009. Her poems have also been published in anthologies and magazines including Penguin’s 60 Indian Poets and the Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Indian Poets.

This poem is a series of four triolets. The triolet Rome: Winter was first published in Live Mint, May 2010