Mudlark No. 55 (2014)

One Day, Mahabalipuram

1. Dawn

On palm-lined residential streets, mothers and daughters kneel 
outside their homes in the concord of early morning. 

I listen to the tinkling bells encircling their ankles
as they trace the vivid symmetries of fish, birds and blossoms. 

Chalk drawings arranged for the gods who adore the colored dust 
and whatever will become of us.

II.  Noon	
Sand in woven baskets across their arms, sand in metal buckets 
steadied upon their heads. Gaunt women in saris work construction: 
back and forth and back through the midday swelter. 
I lurch along the dusty streets in a heat-induced daze,
wishing only to enter the vellum pages of an illuminated book 
where hallowed lovers loll within their hedgerow garden, 
inhaling jasmine, serving each other apricots from silken fingers. 

III.  Dusk 

The chink of chisels from the roadside shops: 
metal on granite, the chipping of flint. 

A massive Shiva sanded by eight simultaneous hands, 
clothed in a placenta of its own dust. 

The guardians protecting the Shore 
Temple have been effaced by briny winds. 

Hence the task of mortal work— 
reveal the gods: the almond of each eye, 

the spiral of each ear, prepare for 
their ascension on the stone chariots of sunset.

Peter Marcus | The Mingun Bell
Contents | Mudlark No. 55 (2014)