Monday, June 20, 2011

His Mistress, Mid-October


the last thing he saw
was the oil lamp,
its flame steady, his wife’s locket
gleaming in the glass....
From the surgeon’s journal, 1857


Even the shade is warm
as leaves catch some sun
feeling that breath
of Summer return.

Some call it the ghost
of India drifting
in loose skirts
strewn with Rosebay and palm.

Especially, the woman who sits
on a bungalow porch.


Sliding her half-caste hair
from one side of her neck
to the other, (as if realigning fate)

Trishna remembers
this phase of Eden.
Days spent in a kingdom
gripped by Colonial arms.

She carried the smooth heat
of morning and slid her hands
inside the scarlet coat
of a soldier. Fingers touched
rungs of bone and the coolness
of a gold ring concealed

from light showering
the garden, a monsoon of glare.
Flowers, bark and sandstone
isolated time from routine,
lovers from race.

Having felt the strength
of his rib, breath quickening,
she longed to leave her shadow
on his lungs, later
projected in words.

A prayer he might say
in the gray haze
when nightfall offered
a screen for confession

and he couldn’t express
any regret
for loving another woman.

Only a wish
to return mortal
from the dust and ashes --
Siege of The North.

Note -- The provocative image is called, "Fire", a painting by Indian artist, Geeta Vadhera.

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