Anthology of Contemporary Indian Poetry

Manohar Shetty


One by one they fall away,
Some gently like brown leaves.
Others with gnarled roots
Hold fast to their
Bleak and emptied plot
To which no water or salt,
Prayer or miracle can
Grant another lease.
But sure as the turning days,
There will be other trees
Wet with rain and crowned
Green in the sun and other 
Leaves born with new 
Lines on their palms.

Animal Planet

Snakes driven from their homes
By blueprints and bulldozers
Will invade your own-
They're not mimicking parrots, 
Prize-winning piglets, Olympian
Doves or postal pigeons.
They have minds of their own.

Tigers drummed out of their dens
Will go house-hunting
In your playgrounds.
They'll dine on a portion or two 
In your cattle pen, their
Claws forks and spoons.

The snow leopard with his splendid coat
And the civet cat who wears
A most coveted scent 
In a most intimate part 
Have been invited too.

Arced cheetahs hunted 
Out of your lives
By jeeps and searchlights
Are only exhibits 
On your wall or carpet
Like those corkscrew 
Antlers of the stag.
And the rhino still 
Flounders in his swamp
For his stolen horn. 

But lumbering elephants
Logging in at sunrise,
Caged monkeys, chained bears,
Leashed lions brought to heel
By circus whips, 
And undercover beasts
You've never seen 
Are biding their time
To join the team
And turn on you. 

And some day soon 
You'll dance to their tune. 
Some day soon they'll
Make a meal of you.


Is not the fall of a curtain
And the players receding
Into real life oblivion.

Or the vicar dusting
His hands over a grave
And a rehearsed prayer.

Or smoke melting into fog
To the incantations of bald
Priests with caste marks.

Closure will not be distracted
By a wise old book or a poem
Or a piece of shared music.

Nor will it come by sworn
Claims of rebirth
And reincarnation.

Or from handsome 
Donations to charity 
And self-flagellations of guilt.

Or to a naked confession
To a shrink's steeple-fingered
Wisdom and prescription.

Closure is not a hired gun,
A bloodstained white flag,  
Or a cloud of doves.

Closure is not an act of will.
Or a vision in cleansing sunlight
Filtering through mist.

It has no set doctrine
Or deadline
That says: finis, this is it.

Closure will come when you
Recognize it's only
A comforting word.

It will fall into place
When you accept its absence
Stays with you till the end.