Madathil Rajendran Nair

Gold Star - 27,635 Points (3rd December 1946 / Bombay, India)

Death Of A Crane - Poem by Madathil Rajendran Nair

It was a Devi temple
In my native town
Where I had the darshan of the Devi
The Mother of the Universe

Decked in flowers
Bejeweled, She was all smiles
Lighted by lamps
Mother Supreme
Triumphant to the rhythmic
Beating of the drums
Cymbals and bells
Noisy prayers
Of her innumerable lambs

When I ventured out
Of the temple, there on a concrete slab
Was a dying crane
In line with the temple door
And the flag-staff of Her valor

Perhaps shot by a merciless gunner
Poisoned or stricken
By some avian plague unknown

Heaped in a tragic feathery mess
Her white winged body
And black legs were already dead and stiff
What remained perhaps alive
Against the onslaught of ants
Were her eyes, yellow-rimmed
Her beak again yellow and a moving head

Which turned in protest
Against my stroking fingers
But relented in silence
On my persistence
To the universal empathy
That binds the commune
Of helpless beings
Everywhere globally
And galactically

I went back again
Into the temple
Where Her sanctum sanctorum
Was closed for the last prayers
Of the forenoon

And I prayed standing there
A mass of tears
Not for my own material benefit
Not for those of my ilk
But for the dying crane
That had my heart gashed and bleeding

The puja was over
Temple door opened
Mother smiled Her adieu
For the forenoon
On Her devotees
In absorbed genuflection

Bells rang aloud
As ecstasy gushed
Across the spines
Of Her milling lambs
Heaped in prostration
On the granite floor

And as I looked out
I saw the head
Of the crane had stilled
Mother had it sure taken
To Her abode of everywhere
Leaving the grieving me
In tearful desperation
With faltering steps
As though drunk
In a world of clouds
Rain, heat and swelter
Oh, how I wish
I had been that crane!

Shoot me please
If you don't mind
So that I can be the crane
On the concrete slab
When She reappears and beams
At Her evening return
To Her milling devotees

Cloud, wind or rain
Can you hear me please
The wailing me
That longs to be a crane?

Topic(s) of this poem: love and life

Poet's Notes about The Poem

This relates to a true incident that occurred at the Devi temple of Manappullikkavu, Palakkad, a few days ago.

Comments about Death Of A Crane by Madathil Rajendran Nair

  • Edmund Strolis (11/26/2016 10:02:00 AM)

    Within this poem, this narrative is found the heart and soul of a story-teller. This temple came to life, this anxious meeting of man and fellow creature, this universal empathy. The eyes and beak. The prayer for mercy and then deliverance. This tragic feathery mess where once the regal being stood prominent and erect now scattered and shattered on a dusty concrete slab. Never to rise again. The dignity and freedom of death. The compassion is touching and a masterful tribute to ones humanity as well as a recognition of our common decency. (Report) Reply

    1 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Bri Edwards (10/1/2016 1:15:00 PM)

    i am anxious to finish reading, but the ghosts of English teachers past are urging, nay nagging, me to ask:

    That had my heart stashed and bleeding...............slashed? ?

    do i have this right/correct: YOU want to be the (next) crane to die, examined and mourned by worshipers?
    and to have that happen, you would like me to shoot you? ? ? that may be impossible, as i have no gun and
    am too far away to get a good shot at you anyway.

    Shoot me please
    If you mind.................i can see how If you mind could fit here, but i'd be more apt to use If you don't mind.

    i like the word ilk.

    thanks for the Poet's Notes. you really know how to move a story along and make it almost as if the reader is there.

    i wondered, on a serious note, if you wished to die in order to receive whatever comes after death. and, of course, the story may not have involved YOU at all.

    favorite lines:

    What remained perhaps alive
    Against the onslaught of ants
    Were her eyes, yellow-rimmed
    Her beak again yellow and a moving head

    yesterday, on a walk, i came upon a dead Eurasian Collared Dove, on its back at the edge of the road. i admired it unruffled plumage, unsullied by gore or disfiguration. i used my foot to turn it onto its belly. i took
    photos of my foot next to it with my phone. a beautiful bird.

    bri ;)
    (Report) Reply

    Madathil Rajendran Nair (10/2/2016 12:15:00 PM)

    Thanks for your painstaking reading. You are right it should be 'slashed'. Don't know how it escaped my attention. Since we are on that now, I am considering using the word gashed instead.

    Also, I accept your suggestion about if you mind. This poem was written in less than half an hour. It was so emotional that I didn't sort of bother much about the grammar. A meticulous reading would have harmed the beauty of it as a whole.

    That wish to die is difficult to explain. She is the Mother Of The Universe and the poet thinks that the crane was fortunate to breath its last right before Her. (To Die Watched By Gods is in fact the title of another poem of mine at PH.) That meant that the bird was instantly liberated from the cycle of unending births and deaths and taken personally by Her to Her abode of everywhere. The poet envies the luck of the bird and wants to die prostrating before the Mother. I am aware such thought might be very strange and alien to you as an outsider.

    Thanks once again for reading and saying good things about the poem.

  • Tirupathi Chandrupatla (2/14/2016 7:41:00 PM)

    The feelings of a compassionate soul are delivered to hit the heart. Yes, the crane stands higher than any living being. Let those who bring him to that stage learn a lesson. Thank you. (Report) Reply

  • Edward Kofi Louis (1/7/2016 1:24:00 AM)

    Unknown! But, with the works of nature. Thanks for sharing. (Report) Reply

  • Rajesh Thankappan (12/6/2015 10:22:00 AM)

    The juxtaposing of the grandeur of the goddess and pitiable condition of the dying crane makes this poem go straight into the heart and settle right there. (Report) Reply

  • (12/1/2015 1:40:00 PM)

    What a work! Enjoyed reading. We are all dying cranes wishing to be taken away to the abode of Mother Devi by her! Only the blessed ones could achieve it! May Amma Mahamaya bless us all! -RC (Report) Reply

  • Valsa George (12/1/2015 6:42:00 AM)

    How even the death of a crane can move you to tears! You have an amazing power to make the feelings expressed in your poems shared by those who read you! But if you long to be the dying crane, won't your dear ones and others who are close to you have the same feelings you had on watching the crane die? A compelling read! (Report) Reply

    Madathil Rajendran Nair (12/1/2015 8:10:00 AM)

    Thanks for pausing to comment. Yes, let my dear ones and those who are close to me just join in this universal empathy. Our world would be made.

  • Kelly Kurt (11/30/2015 1:12:00 PM)

    A compelling write. I was entertained, enlightened and touched. (Report) Reply

  • Rajnish Manga (11/30/2015 11:38:00 AM)

    I am overwhelmed to read this emotional narrative about the Devi Darshan, the condition of a dying crane, a teary prayer for that crane, Mother Goddess mercifully takes that crane to Her abode and finally your wish to be a crane is just amazing. Thanks. (Report) Reply

  • Mark Heathcote (11/30/2015 10:57:00 AM)

    What a wonderful extraordinary poem great write.10 (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Monday, November 30, 2015

Poem Edited: Sunday, October 2, 2016

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