Table of Contents
  About the Poetess
  My Father's Country
  Azadi: 1989-1995
  The Yellow River
  Summer Rain
  Mother's Day USA
  Bride in Red
  My Dream
  The City of Dread
  Kashmir Today
  Sukeshi has a Dream
  Autumn Rain
  The Story of Ganesha
  Washer Woman
  The Ever New Poet
  The Yogi
  The Rishi
  My Death
  Self Spectre
  Autumn Song
  Book in pdf format

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri



My Father's Country

The moon unreports deaths,
absences; she shines tonight
too, faint amid fog. 
Embers blaze blue inside
bakeries, as oil soaked hands
mold hard dough into bread,

Heavy thumps, furtive knocks. 
A gloved hand searches safety 
against boots, jeeps, whistles, 
sovereignty's untired death-rattle. 
Echoes of an undeclared war.

Democracy is Andromache;
the virtuous wife whom
a weather beaten Greek ship
leads away from home.
Achilles' son. Who else?
She will submit to his caresses
at night, as brave Hector's
grave grows still, damp with
her tears. 

She had to give away 
their first born, the six years 
old Astynax, to be hurled 
from battlements
of a city built by his ancestors.
Washed by the blood of his
many uncles. 

Only today, in the noon sun
the city square was drenched
again in the virginal blood 
of Polixena, Priam's daughter.

She sang at festivals; from her
chaste hands patron gods
received oblations. She, whom
Achilles loved and whose sacrifice
his ghost demanded. That is what
Odysseus said to the troops.

It is the city where Astynax
opened his eyes many times
to blood curdling prophecies
of Cassandra, his other aunt.
Apollo's high priestess.

The men who take him away
from Andromache's arms
are kind, one says he'll prepare 
sandal wood.
Another's voice cracks when 
he says he'll bring flowers,
wash the wounds in sacred waters. 

Knit him together somehow 
so his father will know him 
in the other world, lift him up
in his arms. Kiss his brow. 

My father's country is not ancient Troy
Just another place of force
where weather darkened timber
eves hide Ovid's red breasted swallow.
A war bird raves and rages. 
As a tongue less Philomela turns, once again, 
into a nightingale.

She waits for roses to bloom
in the city's gardens. 
What city? What land lowered
flags lie muffled in sleep?

[© Lalita Pandit, July 21, 1996].



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