Someone left a vanilla smell
in the nest of fog
under the bottle-brush tree:
I know, ‘cause I smelt it this morning.
It was a male smell, a male cologne.
A jogger’s imprint.
The smell of burning
wood and tandoor that I call winter
in Chandigarh, rode over it; then,
paraded the whiff of grandma’s cakes,
and the warm, powder fragrance
of mother coming out of her bath.
Early mornings like these
that refuse to yield to the light: they bring
visitations of strange men in hoods hurling
through the mist, and stranger smells
that call up an era held in a tight
lump in the throat
or a nest of fog
under a bottle-brush tree.
Who would’ve guessed
that bottle-brush trees
have magical nests of fog
out of which
smells gathered in seasons of light
never stop spilling –