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Bhaja Govindam Verse Four
Ravi Shankar

-interpolated from the Sanskrit

Nalineedalagatha Jalamatitharalam
Tadwajjeevitamathishaya Chapalam
Viddhi Vyadhayabhimanagrastam
Lokam Shaokahtam Cha Samastham

-Adi Shankaracharya

The water-drop trembles upon a lotus petal.
Puréed early peas dribble down my chin.
I squall. Someone reads to me, if I am
Lucky. Green turns to brown, my bare feet

Benumbed by checkerboard tile. Turns back
To green. I trade waddling for two wheels,
Using the sidewalk as starlings use the sky.
Soon my sandwiches are sealed in plastic

And I scribble sentences in spiral notebooks:
Jane picked, picks, will pick an apple from
The tree. When evening calls, my body listens
In spurts. Here an inch, there a curve, there

Nothing at all. I discover deodorant, discard
Tube socks, smooth my limbs or upper lips.
The world outside becomes a mirror inside
My mind. Soon I trade two wheels for four,

Speed to the shore with windows down, beer
Chilling in the trunk, my hand on someone’s
Thigh. Waves crash, recede, splinter into foam.
The sun slinks from the sky. All the cheering

Stops. Suddenly I find myself collating
Or married and hating what I do each day.
I spend my paychecks on color televisions
With surround sound, drink two scotches

For lunch, sleep with that stranger down
The block to compensate, I tell myself,
To inject some thrill into this farm animal
Of a life. When the kids appear, my brow

Has the permanent etching of a cenotaph,
Parenting scars. Love habituates, the kids
Bluster about independence, the will wears
Into reflex and the vacations are not enough.

In time retired, house vacated, I stir to strap
A camera around my neck as accompaniment
To the ubiquitous sweat shirt, securing
A constant peregrination berth, spouting

From Jet d’eau to Fontana di Trevi, yet life
Remains as unstable as passage across sea.
Possibly my heart fails or kidneys mutiny
Or I am flapjacked by a French malfaiteur

In a humpback Citroen. Kids may bring
Carnations through rollaway cloth curtains
Smelling of disinfectant. Perhaps then,
With sustenance and spilth cathetered,

I will see my life, family, fellow citizens,
This planet Earth suspended in an amplitude
Of stars, as a single water-drop loosed from
A lotus petal, spreading drowsy circles in a lake.

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