Guest poem submitted by Suresh Ramasubramanian :
(Poem #382) A River
In Madurai, city of temples and poets, who sang of cities and temples, every summer a river dries to a trickle in the sand, baring the sand ribs, straw and women's hair clogging the watergates at the rusty bars under the bridges with patches of repair all over them the wet stones glistening like sleepy crocodiles, the dry ones shaven water-buffaloes lounging in the sun The poets only sang of the floods. He was there for a day when they had the floods. People everywhere talked of the inches rising, of the precise number of cobbled steps run over by the water, rising on the bathing places, and the way it carried off three village houses, one pregnant woman and a couple of cows named Gopi and Brinda as usual. The new poets still quoted the old poets, but no one spoke in verse of the pregnant woman drowned, with perhaps twins in her, kicking at blank walls even before birth. He said: the river has water enough to be poetic about only once a year and then it carries away in the first half-hour three village houses, a couple of cows named Gopi and Brinda and one pregnant woman expecting identical twins with no moles on their bodies, with different coloured diapers to tell them apart.
Comments: A. K. Ramanujan, who died recently, was one of India's greatest modern poets. This is a really beautiful piece of cynical criticism aimed at poets who force themselves to look only at the beautiful things in life, and mindlessly ape the same lines quoted by poets for aeons. On the other hand, they tend to ignore the unpleasant facets of life, unless perhaps it is a catastrophe which has killed several hundred people. No one knows or cares to write about a pregnant woman and a couple of cows. The City of Madurai in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu is one of the most ancient cities in India. A great deal of the Sangam era poetry (the earliest and most famous Tamil poetry, dating back to the 2nd century BC was composed here. Since then, it has had a long and rich tradition of art and culture. Suresh.