Chronicle of an Indian Summer
by Srinjay Chakravarti
The vultures of famine have stripped
the green river to bleached bones,
and the sun toasts its skeletal rocks
on the tandoor grill of its sharpened rays.

Under the glare of the cloudless sky,
a striated pattern of dry canals—
topography of nude shadow and stark sunlight,
the rickety ribs of the arid land.

Raped by fire and left barren,
the very earth writhes in agony
with the slow scorch of summer.

The abandoned fields, with parched throats and cracked lips,
their faces lined with cracks and wrinkles:
fleshless mounds under parchments of ancient loamy skins.
The soils crumble into brittle grains
of bitter despair and amnesia.

Bare leafless trees, branches like uplifted claws,
beseech—in turn—the rain gods
and the blasé bureaucracy.

The sky drops alms of sere dust
into the begging bowls of dry lakes and ponds,
all the manna from heaven
and the Food Corporation’s godowns.

Farmers hang themselves with the daily noose
of pink newsprint and red tape
while the latest sex scandals of Bollywood starlets
hog the menus of the glitzy satellite channels.

Harvests of cattle carcasses pile up
at the Bureau of Statistics,
deodorized by economists’ platitudes;
and blackened villages steam
like cannibals’ pots in the cities’ kitchens,
in their five-star hotels and restaurants.