WHEN THE MOONLIGHT MOVES INTO THE DARK - Poem by Varavara Rao
For just a nest no aborigine
Cuts away the wooded-shelter.
For the simple slash-burnt crop no man of the forest
Burns down the nurturing woods.
Even when the hill people
Cut the bases and burn the stumps,
On the hillside, in the slope, on the brink:
Whose sweat of the brow turns into whose burp?
A little moisture of the palm is enough
For the forest that fells and billows away in the Godari -
Forest, the target of hewn lacerations.
Taking forms it fails to find itself in.
This civilizing forest -
Who owns this hauled-out wealth?
In cities and in bungalows
All the riches hidden behind closed doors
Are the forest.
All the power, inciting rare game on the prowl,
Is pillaged from the woods.
Forest with its broken back and blown-out belly,
Dams spreading across its mouth
From reservoir to granary
Measuring heaps of sweat pearls
Burning the fuel of dismal lives-in-death.
In the wilderness of city
Cementing with flesh and blood of the forest
The iron system of justice.
In ‘safari' robes stitched in the hide of skinned forest
On the intestinal pages of the woods
Death sentences preserved in writing . . .
In the forest reserve
As moonlight prowled -
Furiously, when you set the forest dwellings on fire
Those fires that would show your shady face to the world
Fires - your hideous greed that would put mankind to shame.
Those fires of tears that cannot quench your insatiable thirst.
The blaze smites the vigorous,
Rising defiant, bloody fires.
Flames, flames - the bloody crops
Sprouting in the dwellings you burnt down
Vines entwined everywhere
Flames blossoming new worlds.
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