Landscapes With Saints - Poem by Ranjit Hoskote
Mean as knives, his burnished limbs
rotted and stank when the gateman came
to call his number. Gorakh forgot
his body was just a borrowed suit,
one size too large.
He's forgotten the river pilot's song.
He's above parrot gossip,
beyond the hawk's warning cry.
Wrapping himself in the torn fabric of sky,
Kabir climbs on.
Dropping his nimbus in the grass, he looks
at the boats riding the stream below:
close enough to touch.
When the road ends,
Tuka takes a deep breath and leaps.
She sees a boatman rowing in sand,
shielding his skiff from the ocean's roar.
Such a safe harbour, brother, sings Lalla,
it saves you the trouble
of charting your course.
His eyes would not rest on a quatrain of walls
and scanned the desert air instead:
mango trees balancing on their heads;
a bird of paradise judged by earth.
Neglect leafs through his pages. Perfumes escape
from phials left unstoppered
on his shelves. Lead crumbles
in Attar's mind; his hands,
wherever they rest, touch gold.
A torn cotton robe against the wind;
his limbs, nettle-pricked, transparent as prayers.
His name burnt out,
Milarepa sings to himself
as he travels the centuries.
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