Elegy in Norms

A reprieve: the subsiding of a storm. The withered leaves in the cracks
of the city’s cobblestones, the owl slams its head again and again
against the glass doors of the new coffee shop.

A chipped gimcrack inside my palm, a needle searching for a thimble:
because I know the names of every street in this city,
                                     I resist nomenclatures.

A truce, a never-ending interim: the subsiding of a storm.
A locust drags a bullock cart across the tramline.
I see you standing
                                     in the far end of the alley,

almost invisible: crouching behind the abandoned alabaster cherubs.
You are carving a constellation out of the bones, stolen from an incomplete

museum. An incomplete museum, an abandoned excavation site,
a notebook with nothing but inkstains:
                                     yet, when translated, this is an illuminating picture.

Where in this symmetry of blue-ink grief to look
for pronouns that would house my loud dissipations?

Copyright © 2019 Nandini Dhar. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Winter 2019.