Michael Creighton is a middle school teacher and library movement activist in New Delhi,
where he has lived since 2005. His poetry has been published in a variety of places,
including Wasafiri, Ruminate Magazine, The Sunday Oregonian, Mint Lounge, The Asian
and The Four Quarters Magazine. He's been a featured performer at the Poetry with
Prakriti Festival
and Jeet Thayil's Poetry at Toddy series.


What feeds this long ribbon:
clean rain,
crooked rows of brick and tarp,
the ancient, unruled quarters—
Chiragh Dilli, Kotla Gaon,
Shapur Jat.
A thin flow at Sainik Farms,
by Sheikh Sarai,
it is fat and ripe.

Before dawn, shapes squat
on these banks; by noon, pigs
splash and root in the shallows.
Above, boys sort trash
and throw stones at dogs;
downstream, strong men
strip off their shirts
and bathe in a leaky
main's spray.

In today's grimy sky,
the evening sun glows
like an electric tangerine,
and wood smoke from campfires
covers the scent
of swamp gas and sewer.
Sometime tonight,
this slow current will join
something larger, somewhere

an old woman will sing an old song:
After so long, the moonlit night has come,
after so long, this meeting.


Today the tree roots and terraces
hold, but gravity rules this valley.

Build your home on hard rock
and make way for flowing water.

The road crew seldom rests.


Is it the bed of jumbled rocks below,
the green and blue of the trees
and sky above,
or the shape of the space
between these hills
that�s turned last week's snow
into the river that runs before us now?
Choose your stones carefully,
my son. We are changing
the face of something great.

Southbound on the Mangla Express

By the bend at Bina Junction,
we are twelve in a space
meant for eight, but outside

there is sun and a boy
spinning a tire
through a field of dry grass

and goats. Ahead in a line,
straight-spined women
balance water, an old man

squats and smokes
in the shade of a bush.
Late in the night,

the smell of something dead
slips through the train car's
open windows:

I dream of wide roads,
wheat fields, my father's
white hair, and the bend

in his back. Before dawn,
I wake, weighed down
by dried sweat and distance;

in Igtapuri station,
the women selling jammun
are silent,

but the chai walla sings
in the day. Hours later,
just north of Goa,

we come out of a turn,
into a driving rain.
Cool at last, with only

one night to go,
we share cut cucumbers
and talk of home, heat,

and unexpected things.

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