PoetryIssue 17 | March 2013

On the way to Udhagamandalam II

by C.S. Bhagya

1.

Must we visit this temple?
my daughter asks.
From car to scabbed road on bare feet: each step
                          a scorchmark.
Leading to the temple, crags cleave,
the mountain, a fibrous brown
between granite and tar,
as if it has tendriled and knotted
        over an old tree, big
as the heart of the hills.
Pebbles and stone crust trunk:
hard carapace; long hearse
of myth.

2.

The black-moustachioed temple-guard
treats my daughter’s bleeding toe
                with turmeric.

You mustn’t run too fast here, little girl,
he scolds,
breaking another sachet stored away
for the gilt-robed Krishna,
who, with his bejewelled flute
stands poised
  as if to call
other gods. They must transpire
from this forlorn landscape at night
to laze by the tight,
straggling moat of silver lakes
    all about the dozing village.


3.

The sun is a brilliant white maw
bearing down on us. The guard
is thoughtful. Before you leave,
a story.
We listen
half-willingly:
we’re not
first audience to his story,
we won’t be
          last.

You won’t find a single crow here,
not if you look for miles.
Around this temple reside
seventy-three lakes;
              into them
crows dive every season,
turn into swans.

                He smiles benignly
at my daughter.
She cranes her neck. Are the clouds
its feathers?

About the author

C.S. Bhagya is pursuing a Masters in English Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India. Her poetry has been featured at Coldnoon: A Quarterly of Travel Poetics, Eclectica, and Tongues of the Ocean, among others.

Read our current issue:

Poetry

Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok