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often I misquote Kabir couplets from memory

Poem by Kartikay Agarwal

When we long ago looked at pictures

in Geography textbooks

Of pedestal rocks

that have stood through time, as time


their very foundation,

it was not easy
to imagine the hard stone


by knives of sand and wind.

A rock must always exist

as it is present –
an unchanged mass
–bound in solid unity.

But isn’t that rock too

made of the same sand,

millions of grains

layered together,

cohabiting a whole?

And in that dichotomous way

that mushroom-like rock, and every

other rock is the same as the flaccid, fragile,

flexible, human body–

comprising a million independences

into a codependence

rooted in space-time.

But what of will and resilience,
those notions omniscient entities

held in the imaginary core

of the human self?

Will, too can be broken down

(for purposes of childlike curiosity)

and seen in the way
feathers layer one upon the other

to resist gravity–enough

to hold a bird adrift
in its willed direction.

Do weary feathers lose their will
with the resistance of each flight?

Do birds know when enough is lost,
to stop plunging into the wind?

If we looked at the rock close enough,

and long enough,

don’t you think we would witness

the melting of that pedestal

as grain after sand grain loses its urge to hang on,
and falls?

If that fluid moment froze

while the margin of the rock was

a smudge,

and you saw each speck of sand

in the boundary

held in place         individually

mid-dis  e  n  t  a  n  g  l  e  m  e  n  t

would you not wonder if the sands buried

heart-deep in the rock,
are aware of their dwindling foundation?

The unravelling must be abrupt–

the rock, uprooted violently

from our reality

as its foundation refuses

to bear silent erasure
–an unsuspecting caravan

traversing this ever-shifting desert

losing its mark of permanence.

At seventy-seven, Dadi* is still a rock / tears have
rarely corroded her skin / a third of a century
is a long time / air too can erode mountains
–just takes longer than water.

At what point do you ask yourself

if it is the rock

–which is sand and would be buried in sand–

that you worry about
the seism its fall would cause

making the earth below your feet


* Daadi – Paternal grandmother