As the plane descended into the smog of Chennai
I awoke to fields of sugar cane stretched
to the horizon, villages pushing back forests.
Concrete cities erupting between temples-
rock stacked upon rock
wrenched from the Deccan kiln.
The turbulence of one billion souls-
ragas and rickshaws pretending a certain logic,
weaving with Bollywood choreography.
Until then there was no place hotter than Atlanta in July,
Reborn a century after its fiery demise
as strip malls, Baptist churches, glass skyscrapers
Unable to escape the maze of mother’s sari,
I was split between two plots of earth—
knees stained with Georgia clay,
torn between southern drawl
and contortions of my mother
tongue, uncertain which god I should fear.
Would I be Vishnu, dwarf transformed
to reclaim the earth in three giant steps or
recede into the cracks of my fractured world?