The Top View - Vinita Agrawal

From the plane,
clusters of houses look sunken into the earth
as if a vibrant city had turned to ruins,
had lost its edges, its dimensions.
Only the rooftops show.

The city looks spread-eagled down below
its bald, unleavened, flattened head
exposed to the stark analysis,
of an aerial microscope.

The roofs are mostly grey and white
occasionally turquoise,
sometimes pink;
A sweep of asbestos, lime, brick, mortar, cement or stone.

The edges of houses seem to merge
terraces seem to flow into each other
like marshmallows in a frying pan, melting and becoming one.

Which belongs to the Hindu,  which to the Muslim?
which to the Brahmin, which to the Dalit?
Who can tell, when the demarcations are no more...
when dwellings are a blur, when only the cluster is in focus.

If roofs didn't exist,
the walls would tell a different story.

The top view makes what is plural, singular.
If it wasn't for the bird's-eye view,
the rooftops would make us feel taller than we are.

Later, at forty five thousand feet,
all view disappears.
Thick clouds remain.
They look solid, as if one could step out of the plane
and walk on them.


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Vinita Agrawal is a writer and poet based in Mumbai. She has been published in international print and online journals like asiancha, fox chase review, golden sparrow literary review, spark, constellations, brown critique, museindia, kritya, touch-the journal of healing, poetry24 etc and in a few national anthologies as well.