The man who survived a derailed train,
His compartment lunged into the basement
Garage of a housing complex, did not think
Of death. Death does not come as a thought
Preceding itself. The texture of death is felt
Only in the affectations that surround it.
The man tells his story of survival on television
Because feeling fortunate, he is already
Far away from the real thing. Me quarantined
In my room with blisters all over my body.
And a gentle waft of incense smoke, my grandmother
Fills the room with, to invoke the seven goddesses
Out of me. Feeling the seven sores on the insides
Of my mouth when I swallow my soup. Death is abrupt.
The soul still dreams of dying even after the death
Because the body teaches it so. We think death is
Aberration. Thousand automobiles out to run you
Down every morning. The precision of the machinery
Outside us. The survival of the everyday is a constant
Accident from which we will recover in death.

Artwork by Nikhil Acquilla

Excerpted with permission from Slow Startle, Rohan Chhetri, The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective.

This selection is curated by Rohini Kejriwal. She also curates The Alipore Post, a daily newsletter stemming from a love of​ art, poetry, music, and all things beautiful.