The Temple at the Corner

Before stepping over the threshold of the temple,
I take off my half-baked sartreian ideas
along with my slippers and leave them
at the corner where the old flower-seller sits.

My bare feet make no sound on the naked stone.
(The questions of skeptics and
the pockmarks of history
have worn it equally smooth.)
I indulge in a game of quick hopscotch
across the thin line of belief.
The air smells different on either side.

The goddess seems unfazed by my usual offerings;
I suppose even goddesses must get bored.
I make do with the warm smile
on the flower seller’s crinkled face.
She asks me if I want flowers in my hair;
she knows I always shake my head in reply.

A little boy delightedly tugs at the bell rope.
The sonorous clanging reverberates in my head
and touches a childhood memory.
It has the comforting ring of the familiar –
the sound of those things that never change.


21 thoughts on “The Temple at the Corner

  1. Hmmm. For me, this is one of those poems that I can’t quite say anything about.

    Chittz: This is one of those comments I can’t quite reply to…

  2. And what on earth is “satreian” – a google search showed this poem in second place! 😀

    Chittz: My bad. I meant ‘Sartreian’, as in ideas pertaining to the existentialist of the name Sartre.

  3. Very soothing…has a Sarojini Naidu-like quality to it.

    Thanks for writing, as awwayz 🙂



    Of all the writers in the world, you must compare me to the one whose work has been famously dubbed as “mellifluous drivel”.

  4. Ok,

    The imagery is a lot better. You should try putting flowers on your head sometime. They are so, funny.

    Chittz: Funny? My grandmom doesn’t seem to think so 🙂

  5. I love the way you’ve written this; the images and contrasts you’ve used are pretty tangible, in a really good way. I’m not quite sure about a lot of your line-break decisions though, and despite the fact that it might be supremely picky of me, I feel changing things around, just a little bit, could make a big difference.

    Oddly enough, this was reminiscent of something Abbas might have written, sans the puns/obligatory humor. And I mean that as a compliment. 🙂

    (I even spelled blogspot right this time. Must be a good day. :P)


    Muchas Gracias for the inputs! I am quite grateful!

    I wanted to at least attempt keeping it grounded.. good to know that it works.

  6. its truly amazing. i went back to all my temple visits. its the same story for all. excellent articulation. 🙂

    Chittz: Glad you could relate, Mee. Good to have you back in the southern seaside town.

  7. Okay, this one was good to read — best because it didn’t force me into deciphering obfuscated lexical jumbles. 🙂

    Chittz: Glad you liked it.

  8. A mix of r k narayan and dylan thomas.. beautiful..

    Chittz: Curiously, I just finished reading Narayan’s “the Guide”. Thank you for the flattering comparison. Emphasis on the flattering part!

  9. It’s precise, evocative and powerful – almost all I ask for in a poem.

    Thank you Nishant, good to see you over here.

  10. Loved it! Can hear all those characteristics of Modernist poetry going through my head.
    Images! Images! Images!

    Chittz: Which puts me about… a century too late? 🙂

    Glad that you loved it D!

  11. A little different from your usual stuff, eh? Unlike your other works, this did not linger in my mind after I finished it. The imagery stood out, the thin line of belief, the pockmarked history etc., but something is missing. Too descriptive, perhaps. There is nothing for the reader to deduce and empathize with in this, other than marvel at your clever use of words and emotions to create images, and force a similarity somewhere.
    This, regardless of the intent, is not a tearjerker like your other works are.
    The last stanza somehow stands out for its innocence.

    Chittz: Thank you for the insights Srinath.

    Is it that very different? I don’t know. Maybe I’m evolving.

  12. The only reason I love visiting temples, churches and other places or worship is for the mental high they induce.

    I suppose it is the atmosphere or maybe the space or the soft voices and chants or even the incense wafting in the breezes… There is simply so much scope to feel, to experience, to think…

    Chittz: Heh. There is just something charged in the atmosphere about them… maybe some remnants of the energy of unconditional faith must linger… or its just social conditioning that makes us perceive it that way. Whichever.

  13. Er, yes, very different from your usual stuff. But change is good. Variety is good.

    Chittz: Okay, then.

    (Ah, I tend to be a little obsessed over ambiguous statements, as you would have probably already noticed.)

    Thanks for dropping by!

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