Poetry Supplement Summer 1999, Volume 17.0
Rabindra K. Swain
Rabindra K. Swain (Ph.D, Utkal University) has had poems published in Weber Studies, The Kenyon Review, Shenandoah, Critical Quarterly, Contemporary Review (U.K.), and The Toronto Review of Contemporary Writing Abroad (Canada). He has translated a book of Oriya poems Bahubreehi into English with the same title and has a book of poems, A Tapestry of Steps, forthcoming from Orient Longman, 1999. Read other poetry by Rabindra K. Swain published in Weber: Vol. 15.2, Vol. 19.1 and Vol. 24.1.
The rain has grown old
in the last three interminable days.
Only this dawn, the sun rips off its resplendent look
from the protective wetness of its bewildered enclosures.
What could have we done clutching to the losing sands
of our realization that in some secret alcove
of our living within ourselves we have throttled someone
before the mirror and put all those severed limbs
into a shamble of torn petals which were once
held firm as the fingers of a palm. Sure of our deed,
with a certain pride hidden in our brewing smile,
we walk out of our shadows, washed clean by rain.
Father no longer with us, his words have settled
like smudges of rain on the window panes
of our remembrance of his wrinkled words and we,
like sailors, can see him through the fog
of our dislike for his grinning at our faults
and at his pointless admonitions. The waters
in our skulls have gone dry though,
we forge on with our eyes fixed like a bull's
on the blood-stained back of those almost naked children
who play with sands, their mouths open,
on the edges of our blurred horizons;
their eyes glittering with the tears stolen from ours.
The dry leaves are falling again
and this year's advent of summer is so sudden
spring is like something you feel to have missed
but cannot tell what it is exactly like.
You are on your habitual way to the shrine.
There the women are in the line
and those others around are better equipped
with the things other than the offerings.
What have you got for yourself and for the God?
It's not certainly the offerings
that you have missed. The yard is littered
with the dry leaves and often there is a stir
among them. What you miss here
could not be traced to your memory or to prayer
or even to the hands. Your hands do not come
forward to give shape to the wet sands
slipping from under your wobbly feet.
You retreat, your steps not keeping
in accordance with their desired path
and the eyes fleeing from the body
see it from a distance while drifting
across a vast field, the one
akin to that of a cemetery
where all its monuments to the dead are missing.