Train at Three Levels
the first ‘thrain’ lisped from your stories, how
as a child you enlarged two anna coins on the tracks
with the weight of the Salem Express
then tossed them into the pulp of the Cauvery
for the peace of your ancestors;
the poet in me borrowed only the image.
as a young girl I remember the Western Ghats,
tunnels of frightful fun, elephants at work at Punalur,
a wish to fall into lily ponds, endless backwaters
making me wonder how they built those bridges
did the water come first or did it collect after the clouds let
at twenty the train meant travelling into womanhood,
two girls and eleven boys, we were discovering our skin
and the power of touch with a group leader
(busy taking care of himself.)
when my daughter was a baby,
the train was a connecting link
to my parental home; my father carrying her
on his shoulders walking the coaches to make her breathe
easy, no longer leaving me almost always homesick
living in a different water-less state;
now the train journey leading me only to think of afterlife.
The shadows we search are turning into bison.
I have ventured out three cold nights to the golf
to shrink my eyes to see images in the distance
where vague forms appear to converge to quadrupeds.
On the pre-previous night, we spotted eleven
come to mow the dark verdant lawn at ease —
inside the mildly electrified wire net
I have never held cell torches for animals.
Burp-driving from Poomparai , cloudless day
a bison shot his horns between the bushes
to the path; half his bulk was prominent, another
male edged up slowly, stood broadside, urinated,
rolled in road-mud and stood side by side .
Nodding their heads, a female came up quickly
showing impressive profiles, arching their backs,
lifting bellies, doing the usual jig-strutting–the female
opts for the fittest—thus the game begins.
In the depths below another lies like
an old hippo, keeping guard for a herd somewhere.
After that it is colours–the orange of the horns
tapers like a sunset; the pink and cream of the
buttocks is spotted where the tail begins; and the
combined height almost equals a wave at cyclone tides.
A bus hoots and all three dive to the blanket of
the trees. Only the male would keep guard for hours
to make sure it is his.
If I Could Pat You Without Fear
Our search light moves with the slow Bolero on either side with our eyes we sieve the night to pick out pairs of color lights green, yellow, orange, fiery red, dull chocolate but the eyes luminous gauging their distance from the dry earth’s flat terrain already the rubric cube of animal names move in our brain; the languor, the macaque, the deer, the bison, the panther, Malabar bushy and flying squirrels with fore paws flapping spread like wings from tree to tree even forest to forest a lone owl sits on some branch like a flower vase, its eyes are spaced close, the big bulk of the grey elephant fits between trunks of trees forming an arch and when it leans forward for some leaves; the arch becomes an inverted comma. At Stewart’s Bungalow the back veranda flaunts fresh mud marks where the bear has rubbed his itching body off wild ants and night sounds are minimalistic; they carry well into the bosom. I am all mother at once to these baby bison and that deer milking twins. What shimmers like Christmas light nearby are fire flies on shrubs. We are returning, still avaricious for the wild when on the mound near the Tamil settlers the beast lounges its body majestic, its horns poke the night silence lethargically it stands up on creamy legs the bare skin shines, it seems as if the fur gleams with a sprinkle of stars, — it peers at us there are no obstructions — it is open space only air — the jeep stands transfixed by this hypnotic majestic bull we wait like Lawrence for the god given wonder to pass first, this giant group leader weighing a ton to the female’s three fifty and normal male’s four hundred to average five, five fifty.
If I could pat it without fear, where will the charm be?
On the Air
I saw Lord Yama
driving a mini Reva
He did not see me.