A silent shot from the shrubbery, blur of black fur,
its stunning speed inbound snuffs out the sun
behind it, the deserted forest path witness
to one of many ways a walk on the spur can end:
a sloth-bear this page can’t ever hope to hold.  
The foreign body slants hard into your space—

a starless, smothering blanket of beastly odour.
Pinned down, your mind sifts and sifts through
the shock swiftly, recalling the ranger’s warning:              
it always goes for your face, cover it with your hands,
curve your body into a C, and be still;
and let your spine answer the swat, swipe, slash,

and smite—reassembling bone, brawn, blood.          
The world drifts in and out till your nebulous eyes 
spy a shape slink away to the fringe, and the sun
bounds back in like another surprise, your howls
mauling the silence till sirens, lights, and pallbearers
arrive to haul away what’s left of you to fix.

Photo by Silvestri Matteo on Unsplash

Soni Somarajan

Soni Somarajan‘s poetry and writings have been featured in The Bombay Literary Magazine, North East Review, The Four Quarters Magazine, The Bangalore Review, Muse India, Kitaab, New Indian Express, Marie Claire, Madras Courier, The Alipore Post, Bengaluru Review, and two poetry anthologies: Witness: Indian Poets Define Dissent and The Yearbook of Indian Poetry in English 2020-21. Soni is the Creative Director at The Quarantine Train, a poetry collective, and an Associate Editor at Yavanika Books. First Contact, his debut poetry collection, was published by Red River in 2020.