The Road from Mysore to Somnathpur

This beautiful and haunting poem opens the novel Darshan by Irene Black.

Alone, we two
travel dust-layered
along the unfamiliar road.

How long?
An hour maybe, a day? Who knows, who cares?
Visions of temples, dark, inscrutable,
flicker and fade away,
time-shimmered into obscurity.

Here is no town, no habitation,
only the silent calm of reapers in distant fields,
and the lame bucking of black, bristled swine,
pincered by the thorny talons
of satin-suited crows.

Two grizzled buffalo, horns
resting like folded wings
graze in a grass-damp ditch;
while on a tarmac-flattened patch of road
a woman in a purple sari
sifts golden ragi, newly-threshed
beneath unwitting tyres.

At last the fields lie bare; their honey spilled.
Air flecked with powdered gold;
with slow applauding hoof beats and protesting squeals
of wooden cartwheels passing close;
with the sweet breath of karma-laden oxen
bearing the harvest home.

The undiscovered gods wait in the temple.
Let them stay hidden in dark places.
Clothed in golden glances
we two are divine.

There are several versions of 'The Road from Mysore to Somnathpur'. Another version is 'Images and Gods'. These poems are based on an incident that Irene Black experienced on that road some years ago. A similar incident has life-changing consequences for Sarawathi in the novel Darshan.

In the first edition of Darshan, 'The Road from Mysore to Somnathpur' lacks the final full stop, which has been corrected here, though its absence could be interpreted as a sign of the divine.

Literature ~ Irene Black
(c) Keith Parkins 2009 -- July 2009 rev 2