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Standing Guard to Kamakhya

They've seen much, these statues
Standing guard to Kamakhya's
Dark, mystic sanctum;

There's a nose lopped off here,
An ear eroded there,
By wind, by time, by swords.

They've been nested on by doves:
Love-making, chick-rearing
Guano-shedding doves.

They've seen cows amble around
Bestowing sacred dung
While bulls bestow sacred blood.

They still stand, these statues,
Their medieval silence further
stifled with vermilion and ash.

They see the pilgrims wilt
— lined in their rag-covered faith —
shivering in morning drizzle

Like oleander petals and
mango leaves; temple offerings
to an invisible goddess.

They see the pandas in red
bearings; unbearability
writ large on their pouchy faces,

Against the tall, thin trees
Banana, papaya, margosa,
shading a sacrificial goat.

They see the Brahmaputra
which is always a presence —
a brooding, looming presence.

And they see me, eager tourist
encaging them in camera stills:
Another spectacle to see.

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