Four Poems – Vasantha Surya

Servant

One can’t call mine a bad life.

My master and his wife

are good to me. I eat the food

they eat, except for curds

and ghee.

Once a week I watch T.V.

 

 

The work is light.

I cook and wash. I sweep each room.

They watch me as I ply my broom

with thoughtful eyes.

They realise my situation.

There’s no doubt they sympathise.

 

 

They like to have me well turned-out.

“Keep this shirt!” he often says,

tossing me one across the room.

“Terycot,   as good as new!”

She doesn’t say, or even think

“Far  too good for the likes of you!”

 

 

To wash away my beedi stink

she gives me soap.

Down the drain goes memory

of my eighth class pass ‘degree’

and every hope

of liberty.

 

 

 Quick Fix

 

Hang my picture on your wall.

That’s all you have to do.

I’ll do the rest.

I know what’s best

For  you. This misery

You’re going through

Feel free to pass on to me.

I’m not like you.

I’m wise. I’m strong.

 

 

I’ll rid you of all your furies,

Torments,  and guilty memories.

Make over to me your brain’s keys

Along with the usual small change

At today’s rate of Faustian exchange.

 

 

Hang my picture on your wall!

I’ll pest-control your mind, and fumigate

Its every cubbyhole and shelf.

Don’t hesitate. Take this opportunity

 

 

To  opt out of all responsibility.

I guarantee to find, and eliminate

 

 

 

Your fleeing, feeling self.

 

 

Leading Me

 

 

Body, you tell me truths

no lover comes close enough to whisper.

A spouse can only take so much.

Kin don’t have the heart to break a heart

already far from sound.

Friends drift in and out of touch.

 

 

 

Someone usually is around

to give advice on diet, exercise, and medication,

to chant a mantra meant to aid in meditation

to chat on bio-feedback, reiki and all  that.

Yet no conversation really soothes

Like your truths, body.

 

 

 

No healing hand extends as far

as you are,

body, leading me.

 

 

Angle of Ascent

When did this train of thought

take wing?

Watching the shadows of wheeled hours, hearing them

hurtling down habit’s grooves, I missed

the moment of leave-taking, the garlanded farewell, the angle

of ascent.

 

 

Flights of parrots sweep with green

the threshold of the day, preparing it for the sun’s

fresh design.

Riding in his chariot, I have left

all time-tables and maps

behind.

 

 

Below, the landscape falls at last

into obedient shapes.

Rivers assume a manageable size, and roads

are seen to reach their destinations.

The horizon respectfully

withdraws.

 

 

As a well-known poet, translator, journalist and children’s writer in India, Vasantha Surya has been observing the dynamics of cultural and linguistic changes in modern India over the past four decades, specifically in Tamil Nadu.

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