Musings #61 -Two Poems in MUDFISH


I always think I know

what is going on

inside me,

but walking through the nearby field,

imagining myself –

pointing out the hawk’s nest in the dead

cottonwood, the stand of trees

where coyotes den,

imitating the meadowlark’s song

and the two-note call

of the black-capped chickadee,

explaining that, when the farmers release

irrigation water from the ditch,

the all-of-a-sudden pond will appear,

and frogs will be croaking,

duck pairs will nest and swim,

and the great blue heron will stand

in the shallows, its long neck

bending to the water –

I realize I’m imagining

being with my grandchild,

soon arriving

after her long, unseen becoming.


In the land that gave birth to the Buddha

and the dharma, the lotus and the mango,

two cousins, ages twelve and fourteen,

walk out under a moon still-new.

In a mint-scented field, they squat,

skirts billowed. No bathroom,

indoor plumbing,

not even an outhouse.

Such a simple thing, a necessity,

a function of the body. But for them,

outside late in the dark, there is danger.

Mothers and fathers worry.

Are the girls alert to shadow,

snapped stalk? Or do they whisper,

heads touching, looking up at a sky

full of stars this night?

Do they wish for a new house,

a toilet, a different future? Perhaps

they are content. After all,

who am I to say. Yet I know this –

They are blameless.

But they are dalits. Untouchables.

A gang of men rape them, then hang them,

fashioning nooses from their scarves.

The girls’ bodies dangle

like dolls among the mangos.

Flesh and pit, single seeded –

still unripe.