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Different Poems by S. Joseph (Poem)

June 16, 2011

I can’t resist posting this one also. Beauty is “smelling out an elephant from a handful of earth”.

Original in Malayalam. Translated by K. Satchidanandan

Different Poems
by S. Joseph
Translated by K. Satchidanandan

The ploughman’s poem:
He covers the field with
cow dung and leaves
and leveling it, he returns.
The sky gets busy drawing
in the muddy puddle
with its slanting coconut trees.

Turn your head a little,
and you will see the washerwoman
through the plantain trees.
The toddy tapper on the palm
takes up the rhythm of her washing.
Clothes hear it even as they sleep in the sun.

One of the poems of the forest-dweller
is to smell out an elephant
from a handful of earth.
The mason looks at the stones
and the stones look at him.

Does the boatman write poetry?
For he draws a wrinkled circle
with the water that he scoops out of the boat.
Will a tin-pot be poetry
for one no longer in sex work?
Yes. Since she has found another life.
The beggars’ poetry is
to have to point to themselves
without fingers.

One may think
the grave-digger has no poetry.
He is singing, all our hopes get buried
in the churchyard’s six feet of earth.

The field is ripe for harvest.
Reaping is poetry,
to be sitting, tired from reaping,
in the shade of the coconut tree,
to be drinking water.

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