Writing on the Wall

Image Courtesy: http://lh4.ggpht.com


Whenever I enter this dilapidated structure

The scent of its past descends over me.

Its frozen glory thaws

Ever so little… with each fresh visit…

Raking embers of insular memory.

Nostalgia grips me.

My views about re-birth heckle at me

And I assume with verve

Some heroic personality

Of a king, painter, poet, warrior, sculptor,

And mason of this pyramidic construction in turns.

Fantasies of love; mystic, fairy beauty; and

Sacrifices at altar play over again and again.

I feel at once the touch of brush,

Of nascent paint, the awl and a chisel

Graphing and boring me to shape,

The fragrance of unfolding youth,

War cries, massacre, mass funerals,

Vultures pecking at my flesh,

The nimble feet of a dancer

Gently tossing over me…

The clasps of rain and a cascade of vandals

Carelessly etching their names on me.

A sense of identity and unattained glory fills me

Tincturing the wounded present to heal

As I try to withdraw

A chord strikes somewhere

Rolling down… a tear or two…



  1. It is so amazing what feelings old building can stir up and bring to the fore. You have painted many pictures in this poem, Sunamu. I especially like: ‘…Tincturing the wounded present to heal…’ Lovely image.

  2. Thank you Denise.
    These are the ruins of Vijayanagar empire … a small Hindu empire down south in the years 1520-40 ruled by one of the greatest poet-kings of Telugu literature (My mother tongue) Sri Krishnadevaraya. He could successfully thwart the attempts of muslim rulers for 20 years of his reign to occupy his kingdom. They were envious because people used to trade precious stones in heaps on the roadside. He was himself a great poet and like the King Arthur who collected best knights about him, he collected 8 best poets primarily from Telugu and Kannada, and named the “Ashta-Diggaja” which literally means eight elephants that bear the earth on their back. (The old legend was that earth was flat and it was borne on their backs by eight elephants in each direction)

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