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Virgil in Calcutta


He walked ahead of me, down the arcade,

fending off shopkeepers who offered brass

and ivory trinkets. He ushered me through shade,

pledged guidance anytime to anyplace.

He shooed the children begging at the door,

turned back a toothless, crescent grin and bowed,

gesturing toward the street as though he wore

the face of every myth of light and cloud.


Outside, people careened under the light.

The traffic died. The cars and buses steamed.

A mound of earth rose high around a site

where they exhumed something I read or dreamed,

these lame boys, faceless men, this painful heat.

I closed my eyes . . . and stepped into the street.


Michael T. Young



From Transcriptions of Daylight, Rattapallax Press,
2000; originally printed in SPSM&H.  Reprinted by
permission of the author.

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