Sujata Bhatt

The Difference Between Being and Becoming

So where does the body house the soul?
Locked in the attic,
wings whirring against glass?
These doors and windows are always open.

As children we lived outside.
Beyond the house
the well was cool black stones
inside rings of wet black soil.
And inside that, a clear round mirror?
But steps lead down
to water funny as jambu juice.
We reach in up to our elbows;
I drink so the water runs down my shirt.

Then, we’d run beyond the well
to a neem tree. Durga’s tree.
Sullen narrow leaves
scatter soft yellow berries,
sticky limbollis everywhere.
We gather some in our pockets,
suck on the hard seeds.
The pulp tastes almost like sugar cane
except for the slight bitterness
each time I swallow.

Then, we’d roam beyond the neem tree,
close to the tall hedge
where a huge hibiscus sways
throbbing with the hummingbird inside.