Poetry / December 2013 (Issue 22)

Two Poems

by Arjun Rajendran

Raja Kelkar Museum

Through an 18th century door,
I enter a room with modern lighting:
naughty nut crackers

frozen in foreplay; a beast’s hunch
bronzes into a harp.
The definition of museum is a place

whose residents are untouchable.
I move across the hall, from armaments
to art; from the older to the old.

I move across wood, paper, gold and glass
psychoanalyzing relics of Peshwas;
puppets in turbans feign emotion.

The horse’s terracotta eyes find mine;
our solitudes conjoin.
Empty perfume bottles like

nests the djinns abandoned.
The stillness of opium pestles palimpsests
the stillness of a blunderbuss.

Karla Caves

Garbage is the guide that greets us on our way
to the caves. As we climb higher, the landscape

becomes a green table with scattered Lego bricks.
Between two waterfalls, a lingam bathed in milk.

It’s a while before I grasp the wood in the chaitya
is at least two thousand years old; a layer of moss

clothes an armless Buddha. The writing on pillars
is only a blurb for the story set within stone.

Outside the entrance, a modern temple lets down
its aesthetics like a mad woman her hair.

A beggar on the way down stares at tourists;
they stare back at his leg, pumped with elephantiasis.
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