and in the shop…
“The Sisyphus Dog”
pamphlet collection –
The sahib is being shown around the tea garden,
face red as a pomegranate flower, brow sparkling
The women must smile, dazzle like their saris.
They raise their heads, straighten, lift the baskets,
fresh shoots of tea plant in flickering palmfuls,
second flush prayers – invocations that will startle
with visions of Chittagong, and longing ever after
for the contoured hills of Udalia gardens.
picnicking on his monsoon cape in the margin
of a field, the boys squabbling over his army
his wife stoically unwrapping warm tomato
sandwiches, he retreats to the boot of the car
to pour tea
from a thermos, and is momentarily disarmed
by the sound of women keening, by the scars
on their fingers.