Fall 1986 • Vol. VIII No. 4 Poetry |


Is Japan, this new world, another mirror?Because I am away from the countrywhere only the old and the impoverished cattle share my pain?My people's eyes telling my sistershe was a ten-rupee whore, a failed mother?Perhaps the knowledge of seeing myself as I really amwould be a privilege, now that I am here.In the peacock's blue and emerald feathered brocadeare the pulsing eyes of thousands of discontented workers.In the luminous look of the cowherd god idollurks the dead gaze of Gandhi.Hidden in the shadows of ruined temples lifelongI waited for the last hour of my servitude.To build a scene from secret harmonies,not write a history of attitudes.But all I have learned is to play my memorieson the instrument of my life,as I sit with Hiromi or Hisami or Masakostartled with mysteries that seemed to waiton a world beyond my own.Like this, for instance,so simple in Japan, without a need to understand,the fact that when I told the truth in my landit always hurt my mother more than pretendi

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Author of sixteen collections of poetry, Jayanta Mahapatra’s latest volume is titled Bare Face. He has read his poetry around the world and is widely anthologized. He edits the literary periodical Chandrabhaga. His recent work has appeared in the Sewanee Review.

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