Flies land and take off from my knee,
run aground and sweating
in a bright gul mohur’s shade.
It’s too hot to swat them, too hot
to think Tamil, talk vegetables with the cook,
understand the maid’s tale
of disaster on the roof. Our mouths
open and shut. Decisions must be made.
I’m dull as the red-jowled chameleon
doing pushups on a branch.
The gardener’s broom swishes
underneath a neighbour’s singing lesson:
A quavered line repeated
in a fainter, younger voice.
Each phrase ends on a higher note
like the slowly seeping day,
just one step, or maybe two, away