I’ve never been to Dinshaway, some places
are like that, unvisited, widely unknown;
but when their names are taken, a line of faces
hovers over memory, as if they’re my own.
Perhaps I was among the flock of pigeons
which took the bullets for the soldiers’ sport;
I was the burnt grain; the trailing smidgen
of smoke, the shock at the sentence of the court.
Maybe I was the wood that got hammered -
unwillingly nailed into the scaffold;
the mother’s final lament; the child’s last word;
the crowd’s last gasp at the rope’s stranglehold.
Not the key, nevertheless, a witness;
I was there when the bodies twitched, lifeless.
This is, in a way, a response poem to Cavafy's 27th June, 2 p.m. In another, it's a response to an old news story that feels like a recollection, dredged up from the deepest layers of deja vu-ness. An 'incident' that sowed the seeds of a different Brexit. It slotted into me like a missing link of memory the first time I heard it; and it continues to move me, no doubt because there are very similar tales from pre-independent India. I mean, that must be the rational explanation.