| General Poetry
posted July 26, 2015
The Boy and Gunkar Singh
A small boy wandered free, the sahib's son.
The world was his, because the tropic noon
had driven men indoors and under fans
to sip their cooling gins and talk. They spoke,
elastic fervour hiding their intent
regarding rubber futures and the yield
of latex, caught in sticky copra cups
by coolies under conic bamboo hats.
Meanwhile, their women played at bridge and trumped
each other's conquests, playing jacks and kings
with reputations, laughingly with barbs
that wounded prettily, on pouting lips.
Each day he slipped across the cow-grass lawns,
touched mimosa leaves and made them close
with potent magic, not yet understood,
and crushed the purple powder puffs of flowers
unthinkingly beneath his sun-tanned toes,
as on he strode, towards the marble steps
where Gunkar Singh, the splendid Sikh, stood guard
and welcomed members of the country club,
with haughty, regal mien.
"Sat Shri Akal,"
he greeted him; in truth, God reigns supreme.
"Sat Shri Akal," replied the sahib boy,
for he had learnt to speak with courtesy.
He loved that man, whose eyes were deepest pools
of Eastern fire beneath his bushy brows,
whose grey, free-flowing beard and whiskers waxed
around his fiery mouth, a dragon's cave
of betel juice and alabaster teeth.
"Sit down, sahib, seek rest from noonday heat."
...and so he sat, spellbound by Punjab tales,
absorbing culture in his growing mind,
until in time he grew to be a man
beyond the wit of those whose rubber cheques
erased dull brains with juniper, within.
Poem of the Month contest entry
Image: Released under the CC Attribution 2.0 licence. Created by Claude Renault
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