R. Parthasarathy
Remembered Village

If you love your country, he said, why are you here?
Say, you are tired of hearing about
all that wonder-that-was-India crap.
It is tea that’s gone cold: time to brew a fresh pot.

But what wouldn’t you give for one or two places in it?
Aunt's house near Kulittalai, for instance.
It often gets its feet wet in the river,
and coils of rain hiss and slither on the roof.
Even the well boils over.
Her twelve-house lane is bloated with the full moon,
and bamboos tie up the eerie riverfront
with a knot of toads.

A Black Pillaiyar temple squats at one end of the village—
stone drum that is beaten thin on festivals by the devout.
Bells curl their lips at the priest’s rustic Sanskrit.
Outside, pariah dogs kick up an incense of howls.

And beyond the paddy fields,
dead on time, the Erode Mail rumbles past,
a light needle of smoke threading remote villages
such as yours that are routinely dropped by schedules,
and no trains are ever missed.