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With excerpts from Edgar Allen Poe’s “A Dream Within a Dream”

mirthful parsimony
crisped wood perforated with termite burrows,
meticulously dipped in
puddles of stagnant urine, hiding You are
in the undergrowth from the raucous
snorts and shouts and boisterous spits
of strewn chewing tobacco

You are not wrong who deem
That my days have been a dream

the street vendors burst over the imported orange
around the booths, ornate saris are
flaunted, caressing the dealers, gold embroideries
and rhinestone vestments abrading
others as they whisk past, and
You with Your anklets, smother Your face
in a linen rag and tip-toe around
the cracked cement with
forlorn grace,

…if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?

the ceremonious tones of the anklets
worn voices of peddlers intermingle with the
drip of the sudorous odors on the air,
musty, and Your eyes, beady,
gaze up at the rows of varicose veins
the ammachis forsaking their age,
and ancestral wisdom of Brahma,
to save two rupees on the crinkled
curry leaves and fresh karimeen

…stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,

a scraggly papaya stretches
forth from the thickets
of arms, of legs, and of currency
of poor, of rich, and of the drifters
that You dive for and flash
a quick prowl of
the eyes in either direction,
dictating possession over the vagrant indulgence

…I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand—
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?

don’t gaze at me, for I
am weak, but instinct is
untamable
the eyes of Yours wander,
fixate
I am the papaya girl, you are not
they pierce me

O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?

but crack
Your coconut shell open,
there is sweet milk within
not much, for even You are not ripe
as others,
yes, You still have the yearning

You look for a savior.
While I look for a God.



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