For Ockhi Survivors

When the last man on the shore sings, waves
return with a shoal of corpses. The rotting flesh

piled on the dunes bares the skeleton, à la
the starving ribs of boats in Van Gogh’s

Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. The fixed gaze of the
dead, parts the long hair of the night, flashes

the searchlight, calls the floating corpses home.
The trail of their disfigured hands vanish along

with the crabs. The hands that no more hold an
oar, swing a catch, or hug the sand. The night, a

burrow to Alice’s Wonderland. Our fantasies go
down that vesper to return an outcry. The blea-

ched day, a secluded constable who stands guard
to our loss, holding a paraffin lamp. Clad in a

thick blanket of the system, he goes about
his clerical tasks, counting death as if pockets in

a cargo pant. When the dead men sing on the
waves, the wind hums along, the owl hoots

desolation. The earth, a chorus of apology for
the Plexiglas towers of untouchable happiness.

Aditya Shankar is an Indian English poet and translator. His poems and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in the Indian Literature, Modern Poetry in Translation, The Little Magazine, The After Happy Hour Review, Chandrabhaga, Muse & Murmur, SAARC Anthology (Songs from the Sea Shore), and elsewhere. Books: After Seeing (2006), Party Poopers (2014), Tiny Judges Shall Arrive (Translation, Forthcoming). He lives in Bangalore, India. Read other articles by Aditya.