[Issue 10 / August 2014]

Mumbai and with the cows in gods’ service,
I order a burger and get shredded sirloin of mutton,
the only meal in this continent that I cannot stomach.

But there’s no drought as we drive south,
Murthy, in his white car and white uniform, and me.
Small birds, small rivers, and large purple bouganvillea,
where school boys clamor for a photo
with the bedraggled foreigner
at the fort built to keep out the Moghuls–
stakes to impale their elephants,
moats swimming with poisonous snakes and crocodiles,
shafts to fill with boiling oil, where bats sleep in peacetime.

In my next hotel, mothballs fill the drains
and the bottle of shampoo is half used.
But outside waits a pool, a tennis court, a veggie garden.

At the altar of St. Tomas– christ on the cross,
the cross standing in a lotus bud, with peacocks on either side.
The sanctuary windows have no glass and the saint’s bones are gone.

Aurangabad, Madras, Pondicherry,Tanjore, Trivendrum, Madurai, Kovalam. . . .
cities with two names or names I cannot spell,
somewhere between the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala,
my bearings are lost and the ocean is found.
Nataraja may dance without end,
but Murthy provides for my deliverance.

*

Trina Gaynon has poems in the anthologies Saint Peter’s B-list: Contemporary Poems Inspired by the Saints, Obsession: Sestinas for the 21st Century, A Ritual to Read Together: Poems in Conversation with William Stafford, Phoenix Rising from the Ashes: Anthology of Sonnets of the Early Third Millennium, Bombshells and Knocking at the Door, as well as numerous journals including Natural Bridge, Reed and the final issue of Runes. Her chapbook An Alphabet of Romance is available from Finishing Line Press.

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