I forgot how Madras loves noise
Loves neighbours and pregnant women
And Gods and babies
And Brahmins who rise
Like fire hymns to sear the air
With habitual earthquakes.
How funeral processions clatter
Down streets with drums and rose-petals,
Dancing death into deafness.
How vendors and cats make noises
Of love on bedroom walls and alleyways
Of night, operatic and dark.
How cars in reverse sing Jingle Bells
And scooters have larynxes of lorries.
How even colour can never be quiet.
How fisherwomen in screaming red
With skirts and incandescent third eyes
And bangles like rasping planets
And Tamil women on their morning walks
In saris and jasmine and trainers
Can shred the day and all its skinny silences.
I forgot how a man dying under the body
Of a tattered boat can ask for promises;
How they can be as soundless as the sea
On a wounded day, altering the ground
Of the earth as simply as the sun filtering through
The monsoon rain dividing everything.
About this poem
This poem is part of The Written World – our collaboration with BBC radio to broadcast a poem from every single nation competing in London 2012.