In Search of Peace
Listening to the echoes
Distance and Glory
The One Thing
The Magic Drop
head turns over and over again.
Queer echoes of my own footsteps
ring from lonesome jungle bell.
Hushed silence; fear is inside,
and I look out for a footmark -
a paw of unusual shape,
grotesque and real in illusion.
A shadow exactly suits my stature,
covers me as my duplicate; ever.
From many radii they slip down,
crowding in haste and fear :
the center may not have enough
space to accommodate them.
The person at the hub,
having arrived earlier,
joins the sport; rotates
the wheel in mere fun.
The radii shake and become
more slippery from the tears
of fearful occupants;
but as they fall they laugh, for they land on the terrace with a sigh of relief;
pronounce - enough space.
In the distance, the dust rose
like expectation in her heart.
With a hand over the brow
she looked beyond, unable
to tolerate the sun's scorch -
she'd remained indoors for long.
Earlier she could roam freely
as she liked, anytime, anywhere,
like a bird passing through a window,
but now the grille is dense,
prevents easy entry or exit;
and moreover she has grown on.
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At the threshold I stand,
one foot placed in front
and the head turned back.
They put a bar (slab) at 7 feet,
leaving a space of one foot
above our head;
that much ground is granted
for our eternal play.
The playground, however,
never gets crowed, for
a few escape ahead in open,
and rest withdraw in the room.
At the junction where an angle is formed
a mouse has built his interior house.
He listens to the gossips of spinsters
and silent sobs of the newly married -
the tales his ancestors have recounted:
The thugs worshipped black Goddess
and as blessings received yellow cords,
the stories are written: of strangulation
of cornered victims in the jungle yards.
As the mouse is engrossed in this pastime
a cat attacks him with cushioned steps,
but he slides into the hole and survives;
one needs revise history, and the phrase:
A cornered mouse can't fight back.
We had a separate entrance for them
directly leading to the backyard,
for the workers who dug the soil
and allowed vegetables to grow.
We poured water for them to drink
from a height, in their cupped hands,
lest their touch should make us impure.
Mother fetched water from the well
and washed the vegetables before
they were declared fit for consumption.
Under a banyan tree, as I relaxed, I saw
two faces metamorphosed, a Mahatma
and a King; since then I grant the laborers
a direct access to my drawing room.
all poems by c s shah