mahseer of Kaveri basin / fierce silver-orange moon of the river /
your body is a soft-scaled / tapering knife / mahseer, were you
not one of the dashavatars / imagining this cosmos into creation like
Matsya’s zoomorphic descendant / the burnt gold of your caudal fin /
is god’s own aashirwaad / but when they blast your fish-skin / does it
hurt to thrash about / to be someone’s sport / a foreign dynamite /
stunning endemic carp-bodies / rupturing the fabric of your ancestral
homeland / a freshwater Anthropocene / – dear hump-backed cyprinid,
o shy barbel-mouthed giant / may you reclaim what’s yours / tathaastu.
Note: Among other threats, dynamite fishing is detrimental to the critically endangered species of hump-backed mahseer endemic to the Western Ghats, found chiefly in the Kaveri river-basin.
Kunjana Parashar is a poet living in Mumbai. Her poetry appears or is forthcoming in UCity Review, Borderlands, Dovecote, Okay Donkey, Homology Lit, and elsewhere. You can find her on Twitter @wolfwasp.