Monsoon Eclogue

Some years ago a procession
of men calling themselves
the sky-clad came
to this district to build
a hospital for birds that had been
damaged by the rains.

The landholders here
my grandfather among them
decided against it—
it not being our way
to intervene with monsoons

which is why to this day
the birds here grow
so damaged & wise,

or so our tutor said gravely

before stepping out into the sun-
washed coriander patch to watch
droplets work down
stems one by one, small
storms suspended, while over
the rooftiles came
breakers of mist making
our whole house to him
drift back like the high prow
of the viceroy’s steamship
he watched sail off with his youth.

Inside I still could not find
the main verb the chariot
wheel performed. I thought

it was silver. It bore

the king with 100 heads
across a battlefield red
with his wounded
up to the end of the
beginner’s workbook

then blue-skinned Rama bent his bow then his
raider’s arrow met
the axle & then

I could not stop laughing

as through the doorway my mother scolded
the aphasic houseboy

who peed into our
green watertank
(black putti, untouchable)
arcing the thin golden
stream & singing
ooo-ee ooo-ee at our ruin.

Srikanth Reddy, "Mosoon Eclogue" from Facts for Visitors. Copyright © 2004 by the Regents of the University of California.  Reprinted by permission of The University of California Press.
Source: Facts for Visitors (University of California Press, 2004)
More Poems by Srikanth Reddy