Kerry Leves, ‘Night piece, Himachal Pradesh’

Night piece, Himachal Pradesh

All night: riverboom
Water roars out of ice
the high snow
where renunciate males
observe breathing

All night on these terraced hills
drums   torches’ flicker
Indians are praying  singing
God into a village

Next door a Canadian
Sanskrit scholar
tries to sleep
in the lotus position

His wife cries on my friend

Downstairs American collectivists
fight with their children
This afternoon they regarded us gravely:
two vain constructions
all angles & words

Our Indian neighbour
is weaving a blanket to sell
His wife suckles their youngest
The stack of rushes she cut today
sped on her back
in a harness
down hundreds of sure-footed metres –
a cliffside path –

The stack was twice her height
three times her girth –
dried it will go into quilts
against the cold

Now summer candle wax pools
on a plank’s raw sun tracks
No moon but a remote
star-cluster is   The Pleiades –
‘a swarm of fireflies
tangled in a silver braid’
Tennyson wrote –
he’s far away

Closer  in the forest
by the river
late 20th century fireflies
  & spin the darkness
like a raksha’s eyes

Rough spirits guard this valley
where town lights
networked close along the river
form a yoni –

map a Goddess part
on Shiva’s inky carbon –

Water roars
Illusions burn

from  A Shrine to Lata Mangeshkar   by Kerry Leves

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