Still Life

Reza Shirazi

The sadhu rises with the morning
to perform his ablutions,
dawn glinting at the edge of the river.

The station bustles to life:
Hawkers set up their stands,
beggars take up their posts,
the chai-boy scampers from customer to customer,
carrying milky tea in chipped glasses;
the station master, with two tattered flags
and a prosperous paunch,
burps as he steps out onto the platform:
the 8:30 Shatabdi Express
the 9:42 Frontier Mail
the 10:11 Amritsar Express
Each train lumbers in,
brakes screeching,
raising a cloud of dust, noise, motion;
then chugs out, hooting,
and the station settles again.

The mangy street dogs
search for scraps of shade
in the noon-time blaze.
The child lies in bed by her mother
through the long afternoon,
a fan stirring the soupy air.

Evening brings the chai-boy
scampering down the main road
disappearing into the brightly lit
jewelry and cloth shops filled with haggling customers.

The village sinks lethargically into dusk:
monkeys scuttle over rooftops,
scaring pigeons into flight.

Night falls.
Moonlight slides into the room.
An off-tune chorus of crickets
drowns out the snores and wheezes of deep sleep.

 

 

 

poem notes

listen to reading

small town India

cycles of daily life

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