The Reluctant Traveler

By RACHEL HADAS

 

It seems I had to come this far to see
a puppy rooting in a pile of garbage,
scarlet blossoms on a poinsettia tree.


Two ladies in red saris climb the hill.
A gaunt, determined black dog follows us
up steep steps to the lodge in Dhulikel.

I had to come this far to see a rooster
perching serenely on a motorcycle;
two monkeys frisking up a temple wall.

Three drunken Brahmins dance in Chisapani.
Prayer flags flutter. Garbage chokes the river.
Sparrows on the roof investigate

Tihar pastries left from yesterday,
cold and oily. Even a bold crow
picks at them dubiously and lets them fall.

We climbed three secret steps to the hotel
in Bhaktapur, inscrutable brown city.
I had to venture this far for the dream

kaleidoscope to activate and turn,
a prayer wheel scooping riches from the deep.
You’re here to help, they urged. Give. No more taking.

Sharing rooms and memories with my son,
it seems I had to come this far to learn
to pay attention to both worlds again.

That night’s first sleep led down to inky water.
But in the morning, snow-capped mountains rimmed
the valley we would travel through together.

 

 

Rachel Hadas is Board of Governors Professor of English at the Newark Campus of Rutgers University.

Click here to purchase Issue 03

The Reluctant Traveler

Related Posts

Image of a sunflower head

Translation: to and back

HALYNA KRUK
hand-picked grains they are, without any defect, / as once we were, poised, full of love // in the face of death, I am saying to you: / love me as if there will never be enough light / for us to find each other in this world // love me as long as we believe / that death turns a blind eye to us.

many empty bottles

June 2024 Poetry Feature: New Poems by Our Contributors

KATE GASKIN
We were at a long table, candles flickering in the breeze, / outside on the deck that overlooks the bay, which was black / and tinseled where moonlight fell on the wrinkled silk / of reflected stars shivering with the water.

Messy desk in an office

May 2024 Poetry Feature: Pissed-Off Ars Poetica Sonnet Crown

REBECCA FOUST
Fuck you, if I want to put a bomb in my poem / I’ll put a bomb there, & in the first line. / Granted, I might want a nice reverse neutron bomb / that kills only buildings while sparing our genome / but—unglue the whole status-quo thing, / the canon can-or-can’t do?