काला अक्षर भैंस बराबर

Poorna Swami

a love letter, in Hindi

                        and you
sliced open the paper-skin
            of a few words, taking
hours from end to end
            from the first love
to the last, laboring
            over these lollipops
and wormy bows that hang
            off a horizon waiting to be plucked
of its malformed mangoes

            the word for mango is
the word for ordinary
            a practice in equivalence
ordinarily mango, mangoly ordinary
            we are mango people
I can taste your vernacular
            dissolve into mine, the unripe things
you do not say because you cannot yet
            enunciation has its season

call it the struggle of acquisition
            at some point
we took on each other’s tongues
            but a kiss is no lesson
in fluency

you asked for simplification
something telegraphic

                        and I
clicked my tongue for you
            to taste that awkward
translation and the feeling of

when a black letter is equal to a buffalo