The Lakebed

by | January 4, 2021

In a riverless city, the promise of water is enough.


My mother and I pin our hopes

to each monsoon, and evenings in June

that stroll the circumference

of our bayou-to-be.


Starved of fish, the empty lake

harbours cattle, gangs of dogs

and cricket games —

we see snatches of batsmen through the fence

too far to catch anything

but glances.


On our walks, the lack of water

loosens my lips: I ask how long,

and who’s that, and what’s this cluster in the fence?


My mother answers: maybe two more years

and Mr. Kumar, his daughter was in your class

and stops to examine the clump of web and air —

almost a star, A spider’s nest, she says, a nebula

of hidden eggs at the bend in the path.


In the chinks of chain links, a home has grown.


Months later, they remain unchanged:

the lakebed, the spider’s nest,

and my mother:

but for an inch of rain, but for new dust

but for a haircut, and another half-trip

around the sun. ■


Words by Devi Sastry. Art by Tate Tsang.