Sunday, November 09, 2008

Just Visiting

Spend a month's salary on airfare and guides;
but you will be nearer to the heart
of India's nacreous mystery here, in the ticket queue
at VT Station, and not last night
watching a full moon risen straight from a bedtime picture book
slowly banish itself behind the dome of the Taj Mahal.

Being this out of your element
is like watching a movie with the sound off
and then narrating the plot over the phone to your aunt.

- They're obviously late for a doctor's appointment.
- I think she loves him.

In this surfeit of sense, everything is distilled,
the salwars become a tidal flow of mere color,
the chatter of the crowd one communal word
inflected by palm gestures and a head waggle
that you still can't pull off. It's a bit like high school
when you were never sure of the nuance of anything
and didn't know who to ask.

- I wonder why the police are taking his bicycle.
- Maybe they haven't seen their daughter in years.
- That little guy looks shady to me.

It's an odd advantage, to be the alien. You alone
are not expected anywhere tonight, you're the only one
squinting up into this ridiculous amount of sunlight
to read every billboard. It seems that it's just you
trying to count the broken dogs, somehow curled and still asleep
among all these walking feet, just you looking into the eyes
of a boy hoping for a coin to drop into his ancient palm.

- It says here not to cross the tracks.
- Help, apparently, is wanted.

Mark Aiello