A brambly thicket of blackberry canes
squats, a votary, before it.
Another autumn slowly ticks away.
Veils of mist smile on nervously
at this victim of unmoving grass.
A wandering boy hurls a rock through
the ruined entrance. Shadows in retreat fly;
of serpent-girls, elephant-gods, fiery birds.
Mosquitoes slap the Siva linga in ignorant stillness,
a long shiver running down the shrine.
A ghost holding its gaze to a distant tenderness.
In an expanded pupil of stone
a whitened hibiscus twists its way
along the phosphorescent wake of a moonbeam
toward a winter-life of ritual and innocence.
The harsh afternoon skin of the summer sky
lies in flakes on the dry river bed.
There, the raped and dismembered body
of another thirteen-year-old girl, stilled
beyond the tremblings of the sands.
Only shadows in the God’s hands
endorse the despair
haunting the report in the day’s newspaper.
Meanwhile, under the blank sands,
a frail flow of hope goes past, as always,
carrying our women’s uncertain future.
And elsewhere, the musclemen
of a country’s leaders
under their breath: What happened?
Late afternoon I saw a young widow
strip herself naked by the water.
Just dark bruises all over her fair body
made by a world’s lust-filled eyes
kept turning helplessly toward the river:
the tide on a dark beach somewhere
washing a worn-out wood bench on the sands.
The darkness kept on its gentle murmur
Peeping out from piles of refuse
From tips of brooms that sweep every floor
From the posture of litter after the party’s over
From the exhausted yawn of someone called God
Darkness recited the tables of the earth’s turnin
From a window here and a door there
Darkness lifted its head and looked
Who would show it the way?
It slipped past reason and knocked on the Minister’s heart
It flaunted its shape, gathering moments
from the light of hostile history
Then came and stood out there
in a middle-class neighbourhood, stark naked
Does the dark hide a distant tenderness?
An air of healing?
For years it has mumbled the song of the senses,
growing older with each night;
but now keeps alive the desert moon of the soul
in the endless self-betrayal of the waking sense of things
though the clock’s ticking on the bookcase
Darkness, evening song.
Root of startled light.
Good may come out of it.
But the mind is too small a room
and I don’t know where the dream can go.
Just a bank of coloured lottery tickets
crosses the darkness of an ill-fated man.