Indo-Guyanese Women Poets

Shana Yardan

Earth is Brown (est. 1976)

Earth is brown and rice is green, 
And air is cold on the face of the soul 

Oh grandfather, my grandfather, 
your dhoti is become a shroud 
your straight hair a curse 
in this land where 
rice no longer fills the belly 
or the empty placelessness 
of your soul. 

For you cannot remember India. 
The passage of time 
has too long been trampled over 
to bear yout wistful recollections, 
and you only know the name 
of the ship they brought you on 
because your daadi told it to you. 

Your sons with their city faces 
don’t know it at all 
Don’t want to know it 
Nor to understand that 
you cannot cease 
this communication with the smell 
of the cow-dung at fore-day morning, 
or the rustling wail 
of yellow-green rice
or the security of 
mud between your toes 
or the sensual pouring 
of paddy through your fingers. 

Oh grandfather, my grandfather, 
your dhoti is become a shroud. 
Rice beds no longer call your sons. 
They are clerks in the city of streets 
Where life is a weekly paypacket 
purchasing identity in Tiger Bay, 
seeking a tomorrow in today’s unreality. 

You are too old now to doubt
that Hannuman hears you. 
Yet outside your logie
the fluttering cane 
flaps like a plaintive tabla 
in the wind. 

And when the spaces inside you 
can no longer be filled 
by the rank beds of rice, 
and the lowing morning 
cannot stir you to rise 
from your ghoola, 
The music in your heart 
will sound a rustling sound, 
and the bamboos to Hannuman
will be a sitar in the wind. 

About Shana Yardan

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