Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Straight Outta Indiana Jones

(Poem composed while standing on the platform waiting for the midnight train to the holy city of Varanasi)
Rats scurry in and out of wheat bags nibbling my toes and the
White baying goats held around the neck by boys in tank tops go ba-AAAH as
Chickens in cages quibble still and the
Sikh men in headdresses stroke their beards as
Fat men in white suits chew big cigars while
Beggars without legs, without eyes, without faces rise from the cement
All pleading, all praying, all mumbling for salvation along the platform for the midnight train from Agra to Varanasi.
The men push the water cart calling out sums and the
Dogs run along the tracks lowered into jagged black rocks rank with oil and urine as
Dark skinned men descend also to cross the tracks shouldering burlap sacks of filth and the
Tourists pass, speaking their clean German, French, Spanish,
All panting, all sweating, all hoping the Ganges will wipe away their worries as they wait along the platform from the midnight train from Agra to Varanasi.
And the women in saris, brilliantly tailored in turquoise, lavender,
honeysuckle and mulberry lace
Silken silhouettes standing guard over the dark corners of the forbidden and what’s left here of existent grace.
They squat on wicker baskets filled with snow peas, they lay prostrate on plastic tarps chanting, they swat at flies with busy hands as well as stroll haughtily as peacocks along the platform as they wait for the midnight train from Agra to Varanasi.
And I am here too, marveling at this life like a scene created by
Steven Spielberg, straight out of Indiana Jones.
I can’t believe this is real. I can’t believe I am witnessing this with my own swollen eyes. I can’t believe I am this fortunate to stand on the platform waiting for the midnight train from Agra to Varanasi and know at any time there will be a ticket for you and for me to return.

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