On our way home from school
We often spent hours in that abandoned
Orchard of mango, cashewnut
And tamarind trees, where each season had
Its fruit and each fruit tasted different.
There we raided the hidden hideouts
Of bootleggers, and broke their buried
Mud-pots. The crematorium in the corner
Revealed an occasional roasted vertebra.
Once we went further and discovered
A disused well, and peeped into its
Vaporous depths: the water smelt like freshly
Distilled alcohol. Through the clotted branches
Of close-knit shadows floated white
Turtles with glazed, metallic shells.
Moving with monastic grace, they looked
Knowledgeable, like much travelled witchcraft
Doctors. If they cast a spell, it was
Unintentional. As we bent down, their
Shaven heads rose and met a shaft of sudden
Sunlight at an angle, tilting the sun
Into the sea. Still, the light lingered over the hill
Like an intimate whisper of something
Forbidden. By this time, the terms of seeing
Were reset: the well was watching us now.
Its riveted gaze pierced us and even went
Beyond us. In the dark cornea of the well
The white turtles moved like exposed optic nerves.
And as if a word was spoken, we stepped
Back into the world of gravity, in silence.