Site Maker

Two Contemporary Poets

Spring, 2004

Robert Bohm


---for Savita and Berthan
Two goats. And Laxshman who holds
my one-year-old grandson. I follow them.
The path leads through underbrush
to another path. Bearing right leads
to huts silhouetted against a dusk sky.
I once lived here. Now I don't. Who
is the refugee and who isn't and what,
if anything, does the Red Cross worker know
about those who can't hear the flowers' covert tamboras
because of the hospitals in their ears?
Yesterday my niece was married. And tonight,
behind me, the old pump factory compound's lit up
like a heart electrified by an excess of knowledge.
Laxshman ties the goats to a post. Here, a figure
inside a dark doorway, shoes off, a
child in his arms. Me. And Laxshman's mother
offering a stool to sit on. I say, "I can only
stay a minute." What the village knows is what
everything knows: actual dirt paths, described
in the mind or on
a hard drive or written page, aren't themselves the paths
that crisscross a hillside east of Gasneshpur Rd.
Still, I'm here. Somewhere. Back
to the compound now. The newlyweds
already there. Amidst the fertile presence
of the absence of drill presses and lathes, people gather
as they do everywhere, wanting to believe
that tomorrow, if it exists, is worth it and that
far away a quiet camel trail emerges from
the homemade rocket launcher while in the mosque 
the prayer rug unfolds as the shooting fades and the only
artillery is the rose's redness along the ancient river.
Here is a hut. And here a gathering. And here
a grandson sleeps in a room.