Like Dust

She sang of journeys that ended though the road continued, as if
time had had enough of being a quiet companion, as if the reasons

collected in our shoes like dust that we shook off each night. She sang
of the king who offered his golden chariot to a fallen jasmine vine, heavy

with ivory blooms, mourning the tree to which she had bared her breast.
Can you be as compassionate, she asked, as the emperor who walked to

his palace, the fragrance of grateful flowers clinging to his hands? I once
laid a crumb trail of broken hearts so a cold lipped lover could find his way

back, is that not enough, I pleaded. She sang, as if she had heard. As if she
knew. That’s a different story, she crooned, a child’s bedtime fable. Broken

hearts collect in our dreams like dust that we brush off each morning. I
looked up to see the crescent moon had turned his face to hide a smile.

The legend of King Pari
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40 thoughts on “Like Dust

    1. A lot of what we know of ancient tamil history (going back to maybe 2nd century BC like the early Cholas) we know from Sangam Tamil Literature… regretfully I have only read translations of a few. You’ve probably read the Ramanujan translations of agam and puram poetry….yes, fascinating stuff.

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  1. The 4th and 5th stanzas made me sigh and shiver. The imagery is so bright, so strong, so eerie (from figurative and literal perspectives…). The whole thing leaves me wondering what sort of thing we might do to keep what we want, to get back if lost.

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  2. WOW! “I once laid a crumb trail of broken hearts for a cold-lipped lover to find his way back.” That line speaks to me………I love the compassionate emperor, too, whose hands smell like blossoms. Lovely. And your closing lines are perfection. Simply wonderful writing, Rajani.

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  3. I like the opening thought: that even though journeys end, the road continues. To me, that is a promise of picking up the interrupted journey at some future date. Gives me hope!

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  4. “the reasons collected in our shoes like dust that we shook off each night”
    “I once laid a crumb trail of broken hearts so a cold lipped lover could find his way back”
    Very clever and beautiful A profound beautiful poem and I loved to learn about the history

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  5. I’m not so sure this tells only of ancient times–the moon has much cause to smile at us now. And women in particular have to learr to sing “journeys that ended though the road continued, as if
    time had had enough of being a quiet companion.” To find that voice, even if we make mistakes with it. To shake off the dust … (I’ll have to come back to read the legend.)

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