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3 poems by Adrija Ghosh 

Topography of desire,

or Delhi through its trees

and my reluctant attempts to summit the mole on your cupid's bow.

I imagine

your house lined with the pollen and plumes

of a Delhi summer. Golden silk


“the woman’s tongue tree”

“seeds in a pod”


in our short summer

breathing; the breeze moist with our spit


I imagine, the city

stonewalling us into a black swan event,

we could’ve prevented but didn’t

because we both wanted

an afternoon



sudden hailstorm warnings, a blue line

breakdown. Eusocial evenings, soju dunked.

I imagine, you

nibble my ear. Corn kernel; a spud of mahua. We are drunk

on the city, and you say the weather is perfect for fucking. I turn deep

red, the moist underbelly of a grove

of kusum.

Beside Sheesh Gumbad, we lie on a field.

Delhi pours on us as petals.

I imagine, I smell your house.

Your legs splayed wide. A house plant parent.

I wear you to sleep. My dreams are fragrant,

with wet of



and kamini.

At night, my house reeks of bodies.

Reeks of the day.

I am a creature of habit. Sometimes,

when I bathe,

I imagine

standing under you.

The water scrubs and cleans, I hang

my soft laburnum limbs.

I imagine

your house, a riot of trees.

And the way you must stand.

The way you must smell; summer, siris.

Delhi, Delhi, Delhi. You are such a long-term curse.

I hear your voice before I go to sleep. I remember it during REM. 

You have a pocket-knife voice, and it slices through 

the dull and din of my slow days, where the cumbersome lack 

of fresh mangoes in my fridge makes me

sulk. It is a tiny grievance I have, the lack

of summer in the rind of a fruit.

I want to see the mountains now, feel the coolness

Of a hidden spring swallow my toes, and look

at a decorated Garhwal sky - clouds, clouds. Clouds, ferns.

In the hectic of office hours: mobbed, cog-in-the-wheel metro station loneliness,

my IIFCO Chowk - HKV transit, you come as respite - a school se chutti rainy day. 

I turn into a small paper canoe and swim the city along its waves of telephone wires

and think about our jhalmuri afternoons from our railway days of travel,

when I was a greedy child with greedy hands with no idea of the Mirror Image. 

Menacing Delhi drizzles. 

Clogs my heart. Landfills spill

and pause Delhi from breathing.

It rains, and oh how it rains, like sloshing

blister fluid under damaged skin, 

cushioning me and all my tissues underneath. 

I stew desire in a sweltering Delhi, it doesn't get worse

than this, it doesn't get better, either. 

I promise to be less of a mess this time. Let’s retract

into Cornwall coves, where sunlight refracts from the sea.

Where we twilight tongued the shallot sky with our latticed limbs and jamrul knees. 

A round on me, a round on you.

Take the wheel. Let's ride. 

A test drive for two, please.

A sunset of red lights.

At the Capital.


Delhi is wherever you are.

A poem for bees and my honeysick heart

Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not

Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither

Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,

Looking into the heart of light, the silence.

The only bit of The Waste Land we had used on the first night to flirt. There was no need for

first impressions. We lasted the lifespan of a honeybee. A worker bee’s life is spent working

within the hive. Any worker who forages so much must not live very long. My dexterous worker heart, it forages for you in all things blue. Even in the golden viscous of my

honeysick heart.

I breed love in my honeycomb heart & when you come brooding with questions I have long

renounced, my heart becomes a hive sticky with honey. The difference between a hive and a nest, is that a hive is manmade, and a nest is where bees store their honey in honeycombs along with all the pollen and their brood. The hexagon leaves no wasted space.

You make it, you make it, you make it. An apiary for my apis, industrious heart.

My desire for you pollinates, which is to say, it travels to bear fruition. Bees hum under my skin, bees travel through my wits and my wrists and well under the follicles of my fur. I get

goosebumps as blue as the bluebell field on the Skomer island coast. Blue, bulbous Hyacinthoides toll against flocking puffins, who have gathered many names over the years –

a circus, an improbability, a colony, a burrow, and a gathering.

The clown of the sea skims the surface of the sea searching for fish to feed upon. The spring kissed Hyacinthoides get swarmed by hungry bees, mouthing at the softness of the petals.They eat the way you feast, Hyacinth boy. You leave no space wasted.


Adrija Ghosh is a queer, polyglot poet, translator & filmmaker, passionate about

diversity and decolonization in research & the arts. Their debut collection of multilingual poetry, the commerce between tongues is out with Broken Sleep Books. You can find them on Twitter and Instagram at @byadrija.


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