On the way to Udhagamandalam II


Must we visit this temple?
my daughter asks.
From car to scabbed road on bare feet: each step
a scorchmark.
Leading to the temple, crags cleave,
the mountain, a fibrous brown
between granite and tar,
as if it has tendriled and knotted
over an old tree, big
as the heart of the hills.
Pebbles and stone crust trunk:
hard carapace; long hearse
of myth.


The black-moustachioed temple-guard
treats my daughter’s bleeding toe
with turmeric.

You mustn’t run too fast here, little girl,
he scolds,
breaking another sachet stored away
for the gilt-robed Krishna,
who, with his bejewelled flute
stands poised
as if to call
other gods. They must transpire
from this forlorn landscape at night
to laze by the tight,
straggling moat of silver lakes
all about the dozing village.


The sun is a brilliant white maw
bearing down on us. The guard
is thoughtful. Before you leave,
a story.
We listen
we’re not
first audience to his story,
we won’t be

You won’t find a single crow here,
not if you look for miles.
Around this temple reside
seventy-three lakes;
into them
crows dive every season,
turn into swans.

He smiles benignly
at my daughter.
She cranes her neck. Are the clouds
its feathers?

About the author

C.S. Bhagya is pursuing a Masters in English Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India. Her poetry has been featured at Coldnoon:…

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Issue 17 · March 2013

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