Poetry at Sangam



MAHABALIPURAM by Gulam Mohammed Sheikh

(Translated by the author and Adil Jussawalla.)

Man’s dream here has a very sharp edge:
teeth-marks of the hungry dead
pit the flanks of domesticated beasts.
Staggering badly, a thirteen-hundred-year-old wind
passes between a sow’s sagging dugs
and yesterday’s sculptors’ rough fingers,
straining to sink inside, are tugged
into the spotted feathers of hens, purposelessly alive.
Chameleons slumber at ease in the belly of rubbish
slime-covered frogs poke obscene fun at God
who sits exhausted on the steps;
peeping through a cypress’s dry skin
giggle like fish,
and there,
fallen like a raw black rock
on a clump of tender wild flowers,
idle Satan
yawns and writhes awake.