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Ananta Madhavan


Back to Work, Introspective


1. That Seeping Question, "Why am I here? "


Emptied of rain, the convalescent sky
Grows luminous again, all is cleansed.

Cycles emerge from passageways
And meld in long formations.
Hedges are in sheen, suburban lawns
Shine like card tables.
The washed air ripples like a sari.
Boys thump on puddles,
I smell that drenched animal, the earth.

What can I do? No answer yet.
I dare not doubt my own adequacy,
Still less my relevance. Muffle then
All subversive hesitancy,
Do what you must, and live
As others, wiser, do
Within a sufficient world,
Built of splinters too,

But loyal to the purpose and command
Of the dazed mind, cemented
With ordinary concern
For family and friends,
Waterproof against the seeping question,
'Why am I here? '



2. We do not know enough


I know of ways to cheat
The doubter in myself,
Devious hypocrisies
Of the indifferent will:
To soar upon a glider
And see the tenements below.
Tragedies in scale
Are not so terrible.


To plunder history
For false analogies -
Babylon, Nineveh -
Seen in perspective,
All is invisible.


To squeeze out ironies
Like adolescent pimples;
To diagnose the sickness
And surgically probe
The festering tumour
And leave it there to mend
Or fester if it will.


We do not know enough
About the brain or glands
Or Andromeda
To come to conclusions.


Facts held up in tweezers
Vanish in scrutiny.


Who knows, but that a shot
Of anti-adrenalin in the arm
May turn a tyranny
Into Utopia?
Or that a super-duper computer
May find a means supersede
The pains of agriculture?
We do not know enough.


The flies visit my face and hands.
The sky is ill again, opaline, then grey;
A pin-stripe rain begins, too sparse to tax
My faulty windscreen wiper. Changing gears,
I take the corner gently.
A dank heart goes to work.
- - - - - - - - - -

New Delhi, August 1966.

Submitted: Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Edited: Thursday, July 17, 2014

Topic of this poem: identity


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Poet's Notes about The Poem

I believed that, as we have Reason, we should introspect, asking
'Why am I here now? Who am I? '

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