Poems from India

Two poems! Only two poems to sum up the vast experience of this country? Maybe this gap will inspire me to write more 🙂

I apologize that this first one is so somber… it embodies the spontaneity of life-turned-to-death moments. The second is a shout out to people’s triumph over the difficulties around them, their courage to face the uncertainty of life described in the first poem.

View from a bus window

The endless repeating pattern of rice fields

houses

small towns

is interrupted suddenly

by a nighttime scene

Bus headlights shine on parked motorcycles and a sizable crowd

gathered round a gruesome motorcycle accident

The dead man’s body splayed across the road

The full moon rises blood red over the rice fields

in honor of the mother

whose son won’t come home tonight

 

Heroes

This one’s for the heroes: people in all places

Who bravely rise to face each new day.

The Malawian women selling tomatoes and onions on a street corner (the same veggies as the five women around her)

The farmers making the steady, reassuring, meditative—but long—daily trek to their life-giving field of chimanga (maize)

The slight woman younger than me, off to the market, doing her best to care for a child or two,

her bright fluorescent sari a splash of color in the sandy drab streets

The men and women who flock to Lilongwe’s dusty streets at dusk, allowing them to pulsate with (night) life, rising above the fear and sadness of drought, AIDS

The young, old and in-the-middle men selling bananas in Nagpur for a few rupees each

Aruna tai, whose husband died a few years after their wedding, but who has been saving the lives of Porla’s newborns for over 18 years

Durga tai, whose alcoholic husband has disappeared from her life, and whose 50 rupees a day support her two young kids, Ganesh and Abhay, who smile for the sake of smiling

The women I pass on the road to Broken Bridge, on their way to the dhan

Bombay’s auto-rickshaw drivers, entering and emerging each day from the frenetic labyrinth of the city’s streets

The men in Gadchiroli still powering old yet colorful rickshaws by the strength of their legs

The father and son selling rangoli, bright bowls of color fading to dusty layers tinting their skin

These people may not be the poorest of the poor

They have enough to meet their basic needs

But the challenges they face on a daily basis

make them, in my eyes, heroes.

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