The Poet’s Prayer

by Bob D’Costa

How long will it take, yes, how long
for the silent footfalls to echo into the sea
and become me,
in all that I see?

Two long years, yes,
two long years
with three summers, and three late monsoons
and one spring, the length of your span
and half a winter, the length of a hello.

They came and went,
the way once a woman came
wanting to be my wife…

the summer was cold,
the winter was full of rain…

tongue soft, lips gentle,
her eyes held the tenderness of innocence…

she lay beside me
to caress the colors of the cloud,
with dreams to weave into mine…

she wanted to bear my child…

but the summer was cold,
the winter was full of rain…

The two years came and went by;
and as the sea still never came to me
she sent her shadow,
a guest to my humble home.

The face of my smiling hospitality darkened
his smile turned a pale grey
when she appeared gently tapping
at my wood-brown door;
and his faint-brown lips browned further
for a shadow born in the mind
even covers the sun;
it cracks the skull
and erupts the blood.

But when my hospitality welcomed her inside
he saw her clothed in the phosphorous-flash
of the fish.
And on the dress appeared a floating dead shark saying,
“I wanted a natural death before I could see my grandchildren.”

Floating oil appeared then, its black teeth glistening
far above the waves, far above the joys of the sea.

My hospitality withdrew itself out of shame
and before she left, the sea’s shadow
presented him a book of poems autographed with the words:
I am diseased after your people passed
the AIDS of their mind into the sea.

And at last my silent footfalls echoed into the sea
and became me
in all that I could see…

***

Editor’s Note on The Poet’s Prayer

The Poet’s Prayer is not Bob D’Costa’s first piece in Eastlit. The following pieces of work have appeared in earlier Eastlit issues:

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