Nandini Dhar

photo of columbus clouds
Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on

Intimate Ossuaries

The evening storm writes this city’s young men. The brown
limp of winter in every crack of the city’s cobblestones
teaches them how to etch the silhouette of the birds in flight:
the feathers glued together to form the wings, the open beak,
cartilages. A thin film of dust on every leaf – the city
began as a roundabout history of forms set in motion elsewhere.
A city manufactured inside the redundant alphabets, fragile dust,
brittle pages. A skinny girl: boy-cropped hair, quill-thin arms. Trying
to forge this city’s ribcage from its insistent coughs. She is gathering
between her palmlines what this city harvests: used book shacks,
coffee-houses, lonely neighborhood parks, tramlines, tobacco-stained
lips. No one taught her how to write herself as the chronicler
of an unborn night. How to document this collapse of the present
within her veins. The city rarely teaches its young women to etch
the bones of the unchronicled poets. Rarely teaches them to hammer
in a storm on the mirror. No one will buy this portrait of a city’s
detritus: no museum will light her way home. She barns
her collectibles inside the marrow of her bones, illustrates
them with tomato-crimson petals. When she will prance around
the terrace at dawn, the storm will be raging: elsewhere.


First appeared in fugue (online issue 2019)

Nandini Dhar is the author of the book Historians of Redundant Moments (Agape Editions, 2017). Her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in New England Review, Memorious, New South, Best New Poets 2016 and elsewhere. Nandini hails from Kolkata, India, and after living in US for 15 years, has recently moved back to India, where she divides her time between her hometown and Sonipat, Haryana, where she works as a teacher of writing and literature at OP Jindal Global University.