The Mountain Maker*

The Satmala mountain range in Nasik. Photograph: Sarabjeet Garcha, 2014

Did the mountain maker
build the thing up
stone by unhewn stone
from foot to crest

and leave the rocks astray
to heal the hollows of their
supple cavities
with mud marinated
by the turning seasons?

Or did he knead
a lump of loose brown soil
on flatland
like jaggery gone viscous
in a summer without end

and mould it with the lined
shell of bone and flesh,
his fingers slapping the sides
like barn slats and
his palm sheltering the top
like a shrine’s cupola

to check
with a potter’s precision
the scattering
of the only knickknacks
rescued from a lifetime of
teasing a little melody
out of the plastic chaos
of claycraft?

And then maybe he sprinkled
a neat net of crevices on
the first such malleable mound
to make the underlying mortar
immortal with green crepe,

an unmistakable bookmark
to his favourite passages
on the spherical tome
he keeps dipping into,

never tires of.

*for Samardeep

A Clock in the Far Past (2018)

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