Poetry at Sangam



STONE by Mangalesh Dabral

(Translated from the Hindi by Daisy Rockwell.)

Hundreds of years this rock has been here
just like the humans that live here
though a bit older and better than them
For example, unlike them, it has always stayed home
it’s never been jostled on buses as it travels to far-off cities
to work in rich homes for little pay
it has endured neither insults nor felt homesick
nor has it ever considered becoming a deity

It’s just stayed around
a place where children play
or the old come to sit in the sun in hard times….
or the weary lie down for some time—the rock their pillow
or women returning home set down bundles to rest a while
and all along it continues to send its offspring
to live in the foundations of newly-built homes

The many lines on its surface
lead in fact to civilizations, ancient pathways
now dried up—narrow and unfamiliar
And deep within it, you will find
a small tender stone
shaped like a heart
that beats now and then.