Keezha Venmani

–Gnanakoothan

Those thatched huts, which looked
like the prone earth’s pregnant belly,
had turned into ashen ground.

When dawn broke with the smoke rising,
the villagers rushed there in a throng.

These are sparrows, they said
These are children, they said.
Are these women? But
these are calves, they said.

They found the sacred remains
of all that was singed overnight –
except civilization’s creed.

*******

Translated by N Kalyan Raman from the Tamil poem, Keezha Venmani by Gnanakoothan
Originally published in “India in Verse”, The Little Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 6, New Delhi, 2011

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