Saturday, 31 October 2009

Nallur - Jean Arasanayagam

It’s there

beneath the fallen fronds, dry crackling
piles of broken twigs abandoned wells of brackish
water lonely dunes

it’s there

the shadows of long bodies shrunk in death
the leeching sun has drunk their blood and
bloated swells the piling clouds.

It’s there
smell it in the air

its odour rank with sun and thickening blood
mingling with fragrance from the frothy toddy
pots mingling like lolling heads from
blackened gibbets

it’s there
amid the clangour of
the temple bells, the clapping hands, the
brassy clash of cymbals

the zing of bullets
cries of death
drowned in the roar
of voices calling Skanda
by his thousand names
Murugan, Kartikkeya
Arumugam ………….

‘We pray, we cry, we clamour
oh Sri Kumaran, be not like the god
who does not hear, deaf Sandesvaran.’

Thirtham now no longer nectar of the gods
brims over but is bitter, bitter,
and at the entrance to Nallur
the silent guns are trained
upon a faceless terror

the landscape changes
the temples by the shore are smoking
ruins charred stone blackened,
on empty roads are strewn
the debris of warfare,
stained discarded dressings
a trail of blood
soon mopped up by the thirsty sun

Turned away from bloody skirmishes
of humankind the gods are blinded
by the rain of bullets
six faced Arumugam, all twelve eyes
close in darkness

The land is empty now
the pitted limestone
invaded by the sea
drowns, vanishes,
waves of rust swell and billow
beating into hollow caves and burial urns
filled with the ash of bodies
cremated by the fire of bullets.

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