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

Mesquite plant

July 2021 Poetry Feature: Burlin Barr

BURLIN BARR
but the wolf tree was there and there was a place where // trophies hung: entire / bodies slung there in semi permanence // turning into everything / imaginable between a fresh body and shit and a variety // of trash; except Otis; he kept his right in front / of the house even

Recife, Brazil

Translation: Poems by Lara Solórzano Damasceno

LARA SOLÓRZANO DAMASCENO
Nosotras, who for millennia have steered warships, / sailing through seas made invisible. / Nosotras, who walked barefoot through valleys of stinging nettle, had our name ripped from the book of history / our biography from the scientific treatises

Ice fishing

June 2021 Poetry Feature

CORRIE WILLIAMSON
You lamented the absence of a human sound for longing, / like the loon has, like the wolf. I think of you reading / to your donkey the day he died, the passage where Odysseus / kisses the soil, how the beast moved away from you, / stood quietly in the clover, then returned...