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A collaboration over too much coffee.
coffee and pen

28 December, 2004


Outside my fence, the young Indus swings
in sinuous grace. On her flanks, the dun hills,
pebble- and boulder-strewn, stand guard
aslant, dark swept back sentinels,
time and weather scarred.
On eternity’s edge, a gompa clings.

On the endless Hemis plain
wheels claw at treadmill miles.
On the sandstone armour plate
the questing eye picks no defiles:
there's little to mitigate
the mind’s fatigue, or jog the stupored brain.

At Pangong Tso, sandhills separate
sparring blues. The water’s sparkling insolence
cocks a snook at the timeless sky,
leprechaun to a giant. An outboard rends
the stretched stillness, and somewhere high,
an unlikely gull flecks cerulean slate.

In the Nubra bed a lone dromedary
hints at ancient silk: the powder sands
run millennia through their grains,
the detritus of vanished lands.
And a willing imagination sees cairns
in landscapes of woodcut history.

On the ritual outcrop, Diskit’s hive
jealously keeps its suspect secret.*
On all fours I straggle up this strange Golgotha
to snap its grisly treasure, dyed jet
with dubious centuries. How it got here,
God knows; and the lama’s tale’s lost, as I strive

to get this relic of Asian ravage
in my frame. Down below,
the driver’s ready. From the river’s floor
I shoot two peaks with residual snow,
tantalisingly nameless, before
the weather, kind so far, in minutes turns savage.

*Diskit Monastery in the Nubra valley has in its possession an ancient skull which lama lore attributes to Genghis Khan.



Blogger Pragya said...

What a lyrical and picturesque description of Ladakh! The best travelogue I've ever read.

28 December, 2004 10:02  
Blogger khuto said...

"wheels claw at treadmill miles" and "landscapes of woodcut history" are very well rendered indeed...
On the whole though the complexity of this piece is
rather high and the mind's fatigue and the stupored
brain finds it difficult to catch the entire picture.

29 December, 2004 21:28  

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