Thursday, March 24, 2016

Six refrigerators for Kokkodachcholai

Six refrigerators on back of a truck bound for Kokkodachcholai. 
Two large, two medium, two small

I meet them on the causeway coming from the bridge
I just came from the bridge and I'm going back across it
A new bridge, a very new bridge, a very new and beautiful bridge, a very new and very beautiful bridge, there, I've said it, lovely in its curves, its proportions, its prospects. It is one of the loveliest built things I've seen in Sri Lanka, maybe the loveliest.  
Headed for the Old Kalmunai Road, another lovely thing, curving, proportional, crowded or uncrowded, walled, treed, peopled in a most delightful way. Even in this serious heat of late late morning. 

The mangroves and giant saltwater ferns
The Serendip Seafood prawn ponds
The landscape of kitthul palms 
The sun and lagoon straiten and steam
The thin man chasing two cows branded in Tamil 
Yelling at them all the way
Running one mile almost to the bridge, just stopping at the side by barrels of steaming pitch,
Covering for the new road,
Running in flipflops 
Legs shaped thin and strong like the cows

These flat miles of riding 
You could do them forever
Except for having to come back
Each bend beneficent 
Horizons watery and gentle-fierce

Electricity came long ago to this place and in this place piles of cooking wood go for Rs 40 flat 
There are two worlds here, probably more
So refrigerators count as new, a
Song of Samsung. 

Is this world surging forth
In search of itself
Or is this world mired in filth
Forged from war and hate?

Is this world aware of itself
Or only of its gods and gates?

Is this world sunk in plastic litter 
Or is this world finding a so-called "better tomorrow?"

Is this world at odds with itself 
Or does this world feel comfortable to its inhabitants? Are they comfortable in their own skins or do they itch with desire to get out? Do any of us know there's and outside of our own skin?

When they go on motorcycles do they feel freedom
Or do they feel slowed by their desire to have a car?

Can this world look backwards upon itself 
Or is it equipped only to look ahead into an indiscernible daylight brown with smudge?

This world can sculpt and weave
This world can fish and wave
This world can repair and stitch
This world can open cages and it can close cages

This world parks and conducts and pays and crumples
I've heard yelling in this world, screaming even, in the cinema where the boys go wild for handsome stars and their girls 

This world can selfie and it does 
This world can congregate and wait and it does
This world can serve and eat and it does
The hands of this world are not idle no they are not

This world can stare and smile 
It mixes up hello and goodbye and he and she and how and where
Because this world is a Tamil-speaking world where I don't know the verbal vocabulary and sometimes don't know the vocab of facial expressions either 

I've seen people in this world eat candy
I've seen people in this world eat sweets 
I've seen people in this world eat ice cream
I've seen people in this world eat popsicles
I've seen people in this world drink  soda
I've seen them drink it with a straw
For an update turn to the small roads, the buses and baskets and spicy hotness and new stores shoes off please with snack mixtures only in Tamil "Yes, Please! It's Local we want!"

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