James K. Baxter: ‘Air Flight to Delhi’

Air Flight to Delhi

In Thailand, song of water dwellers,
Rivers like lizards spreading
Brown silt into the sea.
Moisture in the hollow of a hand.
The old ideograph of peace
Tempted me, with card-playing
On a hard mattress, light between
Bamboo slats. Such love is contraband.

In a room taken for the night
Sluicing the chest and thighs. Dressed
In loose pyjamas. Lying
Insomniac under the giant fan.
I knew the undesired accomplice
Some sky or water demon
Twisting the locks of the mind.

Light will come at length to the dark room
Where the blind soul to its own incubus
Murmurs, ‘I am.’ The Goan shepherd
Sleeping at noon below the pepper vine
Is held alive in Xavier’s smile,
Has diamonds to lose: but here
Egyptian darkness staggers in the sun.

Seven plagues. Black beaks of crows.
Vultures in grey dinner suits.
Nepotism and the leper’s stump.
The stone of Sisyphus rolled on the heart.
These wounds that I must understand:
This country of the banyan and the ape.

The homeless in the Mogul tombs
Cannot despair because they do not hope,
On the great star wheel pulled apart
Show the disastrous innocence
Of one who murders in his sleep.

The cross is clouded here with market dust.

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