THE IN­VIS­I­BLE MOUN­TAIN

Down to Earth - - THE FORTNIGHT - By J Swami­nathan

Arms out­stretched on the edge of the cliffs Stand a few trees Ready to fly away with the clouds. They say th­ese de­o­dars once Kissed the Koku nala And em­braced the skies so tight That the stars were star­tled By the vil­lage glow-worms ev­ery night. Now when the corn touches gold A scoundrel bear Swoops down the slopes Blaz­ing de­struc­tion All our pis­tols and dou­ble-bar­relled guns Fail to stop him. Ma­haraj, where is that old rogue this year? The moun­tain be­fore you Hides an­other from view. As­cend the slopes to Rana Ki Kot And look across But the moun­tain will not ap­pear It is drowned in mist To float up staid Un­moved. Look The slate on the water­mill still shim­mers The corn spreads in yel­low sheets The cowherds laze around, watch­ing Across the val­leys the cat­tle are graz­ing You say the moun­tain Shrouded in mist Would reap­pear. But see how clear is the sky No mist, no fog No wisp of a cloud stuck on a cliff-top That moun­tain is not vis­i­ble, Ma­haraj. You can­not see on the moun­tain The gu­j­jar camp With long-waisted women dressed in black And the wild dogs with eyes of burning coal. That moun­tain is not vis­i­ble, Ma­haraj Its si­lence hides be­hind The moun­tain be­fore you A wounded deer wait­ing to spring. J Swamina than was a painter and poet. This poem, pub­lished in Down To Earth (De­cem­ber16-31,1992), was trans­lated from the orig­i­nal Hindi by Amit Mi­tra

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