Kamayani Bisht (Towards Visibility)

Kamayani Bisht
WALLS OF SILENCE

 

Walls of silence that build chapels in The Vatican

are made of stone; cold stone

and wood that waits to become fire.

They’re made of the fumes of extinguished candles

that live inside the habits of convents.

They’re made of the grace of the Fathers and the Brothers

and also of the shame of the Sisters

beyond the Sunday mass

when little girls and their little brothers entertain

the solemn saints on the frescos

with their colourful laughter for an hour or two.

Monday brings back the nameless midwife

to deliver another sin unto the tower of silence.

 

Walls have ears but they’ve lost their hearing to

the din of high decibel hymns

and the occasional pangs of the guilty abyss.

 

Ah wonderful walls

***

 

 

QUEEN OF HILLS

 

No no no

I hate my town being called queen

Queen of Hills

Not because I have the poor man's angst

and anger for the supercilious kings and their pristine queens--

but because my queen really is nobody’s queen.

She is everybody’s Madame--

infiltrated by all...infringed by all

denuded,  carved, spanked, tied, violated

in ways  that give them pleasure...unique, collective, holy, pervert.

And they insist, she’s the queen-- benign to all who seek her,

available to all who bring their flirting  tools.

And cameras of course!

 

She smiles ruefully at the uncouth nightly visitors

who return her favour with mouthfuls of unkind appreciation.

She mourns the loss of her limbs

She counts the hair she is losing to transmitted disease

She wails in memory of her queenly past

And she waits for the quiet winter

when she will bandage her wounds in pristine white

to hide her outraged modesty from her own children.

She wonders if her suitors have heard of ‘consent’.

She wonders if she needs to recall her voice

to erase the paeans from all travelogues

with the one primal cry that will

return her to her throne.

She wonders when it will be a good time

to start being Queen again...queen of the hills.

***

 

 

FAITH

 

No it is not difficult

to have faith in tomorrow--

Not any more than that queue of vermilion smeared heads

lined up at the unfinished temple,

being built by the small-town contractor.

The temple doesn’t have a god yet;

he is under construction in a roadside ghetto in another town,

but faith has found its way up the prospect hill:

Faith, in the brick walls that will house a piece of mortar,

Faith in the incense that will build a bed of ash

for the god to find its seat on.

The ants don’t know which god will arrive

jiggling in the sand lined trunk of the yellow truck

that ferries workers to the construction site

on all other days.

But they know this is where they can come and steal

Some prasadam today, tomorrow and forever.

 

Of course, tomorrow comes. It comes

when today crumples off like a dry leaf from my bonsai peepal;

it comes when the one waiting for its arrival

has passed into yesterday.

And it announces it its arrival

with the arrogance of the cement god who was stuck in traffic

but should have been waited for.

***

 

 

Kamayani Bisht teaches English at the Government College in Shimla, India. She has two collections of poetry to her credit; The Witch Must Die and Other Poems (2019) and Recipe for Ladyfinger Pickle (2022). Her poems have found place in several anthologies.

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