by Bruce Dodson

Morning comes
The only difference here from night
Is light
As life goes on all hours
The nights are cooler.

This town is self described
With endless slums of palm leaf shanty rooms
Darkened from years of dust and smoke
Spectrum reduced to shades of black and tan.

Streets are infested by a seething anthill mass
Of human forms
Each making desperate attempts
To maintain life
They start out early
Wheelwrights, potters, weavers, fortune tellers
Rickshaws, cows and business men in shabby brown suits
Office workers.

Labor stops at noon
The sun directly overhead
Equator’s shimmering, deadly heat.
The people slow
A starving dog finds a convenient place to die
He will be taken care of in the night
By other starving dogs
Nothing is wasted here.

At three the pace picks up again
Increasing with the evening shadows
Night is merciful
Life seems more possible
Another day has been survived
Tomorrow will be much the same
Seemingly endless hours on sun baked earth.

Impossible stone monoliths extend
Into the heated cloudless sky above
Grasping for deities
Gigantic sculpture laden pyramids
Both gods and demons grace the temple entrances
To labyrinths where better than hundred priests reside
No waiting
Worshipers expected to leave coins.

Pilgrims walk barefoot over cool stone floors worn smooth
By ancestors, their fathers, father’s fathers
Maze-like temples spanning acres
Time worn sandstone deities in every shadowed niche
Some crumbling and ignored
Yet not forgotten in these modern times
Both Gods and Demons find their last abode in Trichy.

Land of fortune tellers, jungle, ancient temples
Spells and curses
I have seen and felt their presence
White men feel oppressed here

Out of touch . . . another world.

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Filed under Issue 5: The Far East, Poetry

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