Poetry Here & Now: Shail Agrawal

Remembering China

Where we roamed
carefree hand in hand
And visited a palace by day
and a theatre by night
Where like a dark
black widow spider
power-hungry queen
ate its own siblings
so we were told
Horses and flashing swords galore
Same old tale of endless
betrayal and treachery
A cruel dark history
of an expanding nation
Echoing all over with a Buddhist Gong
Red, colour of blood colour of power
laced with shimmering gold
Those high and dry terra-cotta warriors
Dug out of its gallant past
Then there was miracle of science
A glass corridor hundred feet high
Where people afraid of walking
Went on knees like a child crawling
dazzling Shanghai full of many wonders
like a tours to vast World trade exhibition.
Glittering streets and revolving restaurants
But people stern in khaki uniforms
serving dishes with army precision
lavished lay outs in beautiful restaurants
Mass yoga in the morning at Beijing parks
And a sumptuous dinner at night on the hills
where an artist was painting a panda
eating all those bamboo leaves
Yes, It was a new experience
And new town for our each new day
On blue hills and a muddy river
We were sailing high on the wind
Blue pagoda in the garden of peace
Buddha calmly sitting on pink lotus leaves
A crazy market town was our next stop
Near by a wine bar, but never too far
from the temple to shores of little venice full of small vendors
Cheap battery run toys
Hats and ties and printed shirts
buy them all as you stroll
To Xiang we went next, the city of culture
Beggars on the road and unborn babies
Filled in different shaped colourful jars
Beside snakes, rats and rabbits
Really a disturbing black art
One child misery of those living graves
Tears and sighs of many helpless parents

Guide told us- things that shine
we may collect and buy them here
Silk, pearls, spices all in a heap
Finest delicacies all mass produced
then we were on yellow river cruise
A flute player on its lonely bank
and to the revered ancestor village
That hermit next to a coffin on hill top
Then a summer palace built in the shape of boat
peace and beauty all around
swiftly sailing to the top
A rising nation
trying to be first in corridors of power
and we humble tourists still perched high
watching the Sun rising in the east
from the longest stretch
of the glorious wall of China .

***

Taj Mahal

Unshackled from
the tortured past
a liberated soul
from an imprisoned
body and heart
with a dying river
in its backyard
A tender love story
indeed, forever asleep
in this mausoleum of crowns
forcibly looted
imprisoned and beheaded.
Yet somehow not rolling in oblivion.
A forlorn tear, escaping from the history
settling deep, like a shiny jewel.
Forcing the world to marvel about all those
dreams and promises, vigour and amour
of a royal but helpless human lover.
A lifetime always a little too little.
All the world’s artistry just falling short
to capture vividly that flaming passion.
Immortal desires, at peace, at last
in celebration of death.
Like a writ on thunderous water.
This declaration of undying love.
World’s seventh wonder.
A breath-taking fete of splendour.
But Its beauty aching deep
And marble under the feet
Always so cold.

Shail Agrawal