Canto 6,7, from “An epiclet: Apsara”

Canto six

Apsara, we know, was her name
The blacksmith’s son’s name is lost to history.
One twilit eve Mr Smith looked out through the window
After polishing his black shoes again and making them shine
Till he could see his bleached face in them
And saw Apasara and her young man walk by
Something in the curve of her walk
reminded him of the curves of the sweet Thames
that ran softly as if in song
be the song long or be the song lorn
Come, let me with this Amaryllis in the shade sport
and have some dalliance, he thought idly
That it may not be said I did not enjoy foreign furlough 
Mrs Smith being too oft engaged in some other sport
He called the young man and her over
Asked them amiably what there was to visit
In the quiet vicinity
In halting English, they said
We go to the temple
May I too, he asked
Exchanging glances
Unsure, puzzled
As to how to explain that they themselves had to stand
far away from the temple and bow
they half-heartedly said, yes
and then the three fared on
When they reached the banyan tree
They asked him to wait
He did without demur
They went and came back
Then he asked them about the blue light
Even from afar it could be seen glimmering
They tried to explain about the gemstone to him
He had come to survey about the railways lines
criss-crossing the entire land
and its feasibility for their place, he said.
At parting, he let his eyes remain only on her
She felt confused and hers, hers fell down.
The nameless young man watched, troubled at something
he fathomed and did not. The advent of more travail.

Canto seven

Slowly they spend more time together
Apsara and the man from across
the sundering seas with his strange stories
of ships that sail and tunnels through which
roar coal-driven, so-called, modern, carriage-bound locomotives
while in the background silently
feeling as if he was fading away into nothingness 
waited patiently the blacksmith’s son
listening too and learning, thinking
dreaming, wondering what the advent of the new knowledge meant.

One day he could not go to see both –
Apsara alone met her new mentor
Who told her about the globe and its wonders
and gemmology and then asked her if she knew
about the birds and the bees
and on hearing her answer that she did not understand the question
he laughed and she could not decipher in it his tone of mockery
When she was about to leave he suddenly touched her cheek
carressingly and in a swift move, kissed her full lips
She was all of sweet seventeen
Astounded, without even knowing fully what had happened
her chest rose and fell in confusion as she
crimsoned and he withdrew, and her breath grew rapid
her heart beat as if bursting out of its rib-cage
she ran away without a backward glance
unlike Lot’s wife who had long ago been warned
not to look back but on disobeying 
had been changed forever into a pillar of salt.
She knew about the landlords in her place
and the fear girls her age in her community bore
but this new threat she could not entirely fathom
It came in such an alinen shape that it was not entirely clear as one
she told not even her only friend
or her mother or father or siblings in her home
His knowledge was attractive, she had often felt
But his advance merely repulsed her
It felt unjust 
She went home and decided to no longer go there
for picture books or for learning that strange new alphabet.

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Dr A.V. Koshy is presently working as Assistant Professor in Dept. of English, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Jazan University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He has authored or co-authored seven or eight books of poetry, theory and criticism. He is an editor and anthologist. He is also a distinguished teacher of the English language and literature and a critic, with a Ph.D in modern poetry, specifically Samuel Beckett's poems in English. He was a Pushcart Prize nominee for poetry in 2012 and his book Art of Poetry was selected as Best Reads 2012 by Butterfly and the Bee. He has been editor's pick on Camel Saloon thrice and poet of the month thrice in Destiny Poets UK besides often having his poems appear in the highly selected category. Has other international awards, diplomas and certificates to his credit too.

2 thoughts on “Canto 6,7, from “An epiclet: Apsara”

  1. sunil sharma

    Sweet song heard in the yore, while crossing the wonderful river Thames; re-captured here by the gifted Koshy, in great style and dulcet rhyme, whose soft echoes tarry long in the fevered mind; like the music of quiet waves, resounding and amplified on the gently-receding shore.

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