‘New Delhi, Beyond the AQI’, a poem by Anannya Uberoi


    New Delhi, Beyond the AQI


The king’s lane, papayawhip-paved.
                    Smog on the lemonade children.
By November, everything underwater. Crop-burn and tobacco clouds
on evening sounds: fast-car honk, tin snips on sheets, railroad tracks.

Old canard that the city drowns in its own black cloud.
Not even the Ganges-sister, in her tar-pits and flying foam
              moves. The khirni tree, old and full-grown,
ever standing by white marble, cuts its days short.

In the Ridge, a macaque threatened by a fruit-eye.
Discovered in the fog lights, a silhouette
its dangling child, crossing the asphalt. Wind whistling
        through a crunched hole on the ground.

Our car stops,
mile on mile of nothingness. A barn owl shrieks. Layers of
        mink-ash air, like breaths tucked in a gray-haired blanket,
coarse and scratched, surviving for a day and a day more

        yet going on winter after winter without question.

Candle flame like a watercolor ghost, burning, smudged
steps ahead. We become children of the shadows save
tooth and nail,
        cornflower white, dug into the dust of the sun.


Anannya Uberoi

About Anannya Uberoi

Anannya Uberoi is a full-time software engineer and part-time tea connoisseur based in Madrid. She is poetry editor at The Bookends Review, former columnist at The Remnant Archive, and the winner of the 6th Singapore Poetry Contest. She has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize, The Hawker Prize, and Best of the Net. An avid traveller, she has extensively toured the Himalayas of Northern India, Bhutan and Nepal. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The New York Public Library Zine, The Bangalore Review, The Birmingham Arts Journal, The Indianapolis Review, The Lincoln Review, and The Madras Courier.