After the explosion, after the unruly scattering,
uneasy quiet on the streets, shut windows,
The baker turns on the light in his shop,
wipes the front window with its single bullet hole
springing rays of splintered glass
and begins to knead the dough.
Someone’s got to make bread even during war,
he says matter-of-factly.
Soon people will step like shadows
onto the street, weave their way to him
and carry home a loaf to be shared.
A child bends down to pick up what you lost,
smooths down the fabric, star after star,
dust on her fingers
and skips up
to her mother’s call in the dusk,
the cosmos in her pocket.
Pramila Venkateswaran is the author of eight books of poems, including Behind Dark Waters, Thirteen Days to Let Go, Slow Ripening and The Singer of Alleppey. She won the New York Book Festival’s Best Poetry Award (2023) for her poetry collection We Are Not a Museum.