Listen, the air is vivid with their chatter
as they weave through shadows, dart
from jasmine to hibiscus to frangipani,
to tender fronds of young palm.
Their tunes and various temples
threading the heavens in the sky
Along the lane by the garden, an old woman,
wrapped in the intricate folds of her sari,
with one hand balances a precarious pile
of kindling on her head, and with the other
she taps a bamboo cane on the buttocks
of an ox ambling before her; horns crimson tipped.
Bangles of silver and bright plastic jingle on her thin wrists.
I am between two worlds – the one I have come from
and carry within – dying, gangrenous –
and this one of braided streams.
Listen – the whisper of a plane way up there seeping a scar.
The gardener, hunkered on the paved path,
his toes like fingers splayed, sweeps
with a few sticks bound together – swish swish –
in an arc around his compact body.
Leaves fall in arabesques, clatter onto the dry earth.
No end to this task. Swish swish – new leaves
bud, unfurl, green, crisp, tumble.
Rick Vick, (1948 – 2019), sometimes known as ‘The Stroud Poet’. Rick touched the lives of many people in the Stroud valleys. This poem Listen first appeared in Rick’s pamphlet ‘Indian Eye’ and was written during a visit to India in 2013. The leaves in the final stanza are a simple but effective symbol of the eternal cycle of life – stark against the timeless backdrop of this Indian street scene. (Published with the kind permission of Rick’s family).