What will it take?

how much of you am I, my country.
how much of me are you,
let’s begin here, as I hold you,
while you don’t even know my name,
while I stand in this ticket line, far away,
in the travelling froth of backpackers and high heeled shoes,
waiting to see another palace, another castle,
the last euros clutched in my hand,
the dust of five thousand years in my back pocket;
by the Avon, past the Dolomites,
in the back streets of strange capitals,
a smell, a name, a face, a voice,
drags me back to your arms,
everything that identifies me,
everything I identify with,
brings me back home, to you,
but we’re still here, my eyes smarting,
when the flag flies high, when we sing your glory,
while you don’t even know my name;
are you from Mumbai, a kid asks me
on the Nile embankment,
and I open my mouth to explain, but then I just nod,
and he is happy, punching the air, opening his palm for a coin,
children have the same smile everywhere,
but you and I, we’re on the same journey
and they ask me questions that they want to ask you,
and I tell them what you are,
your ancient blood, your many-armed battle,
they think you are the wisdom of the Vedas,
they think you are the romance of the Taj Mahal,
they think you are the endless sands of the Deccan,
but we know your secret, don’t we,
we have played in the mud together, scraped our little brown knees,
held the silence of the Himalayas in our cupped hands,
I can’t tell them why I tie myself to the edge of your sea,
and feel the tide wash out from between my toes,
they ask me questions they want to ask you,
but we’re still there, me speaking for you
and you not knowing my name,
what will it take, my country,
I took everything you gave
and gave away my name,
when I’m gone,
my ashes drowning in your waters,
someone will stand knee deep in the Ganga,
and say she was right,
the poetry run through your veins,
and every word is as it should be,
every word is the home you gave,
let’s begin here,
where every word is a name.

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47 thoughts on “What will it take?

  1. This is an exceptional piece of poetry. The opening questions is so well phrased and the quest for identity told in a thoroughly authentic voice. This poem is definitely a personal favourite of your work.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. yes, what the eyes have seen, what the nose has smelled, what the ears have heard, if lucky the lips have tasted and the hands have touched, these are things that make us, the experiences that make the words that fall upon writ. words are us !

    wonderful write my friend

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is so beautiful and made me wish I could write such a love letter to my country. Only a dear John letter these days. Must focus more on the amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesties. I love the way you juxtaposed a sad estrangement while loving long distance.

    Like

  4. oh this is an excellent write. vivid poetic storytelling with a great, melodious rhythm

    “children have the same smile everywhere,” is a wonderful truth and
    “and I tell them what you are,
    your ancient blood, your many-armed battle,
    they think you are the wisdom of the Vedas,
    they think you are the romance of the Taj Mahal,
    they think you are the endless sands of the Deccan,
    but we know your secret, don’t we,
    we have played in the mud together, scraped our little brown knees,
    held the silence of the Himalayas in our cupped hands,”

    is brilliant in its flow and depth. the sharp contrast in the thinks and the haves, the mud vs endless sands and scraps vs wisdom is played out so well. cheers

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow! If this piece is a reflection of what to see from you in the NEW YEAR, we are all in for a splendid literary treat. Your thoughts were never lost, in reading this.
    புத்தாண்டு வாழ்த்துக்கள் (I think 🙂 )

    Like

  6. I was very touched by “every word is the home you gave, let’s begin here,” The connection to country is so profound, I believe it is a commonality that unites us all – even when we live in different countries.

    Like

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