Arrival

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written March 3, 2006, Chennei, India

Oblivious, the taxi driver stands ankle-deep
In pouring rain, stows bags possessing
What he never shall, then threads his little vehicle
Through the motliest herd of conveyances —
Busses, mopeds, bicycles, tricycles, tankers,
Carts pulled by lumbering oxen with painted horns —
Each one lurching forward at its own speed,
While he, the taxi driver, constantly caresses
His staccato horn, as if its harmless bird-chirp
Were actually the force which displaced
The careening tonnage of jerry-rigged lorries
For that critical hair’s breadth which affords us
A sighing safe passage.
Here is filth already millennia old before the birth of Christ,
Shining on a ground which reeks of petroleum,
Feces, garbage and sanctity.

Inside what remains of our minds,
The usual whirl of thoughts,
Even in the midst of this crowded, streaming, steaming bustle,
Floats down corridors of cloud-smudged stars
To someplace were starlight and moonlight and sunlight
Are one. India. Now her immemorial potencies
Of passion and silk and marble
Rises from that deep well which has birthed
And enriched and impoverished billions of souls —
Tiger and elephant and lowly rat and human —
All writhing together with clashing bracelets and anklets
In that love-making which never starts nor ends,
But where we, in our insulated bed,
Meet in a mating which falls like sun-soaked rain.

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