Here in Sri Lanka,
We call our lakes, oceans, like Parakrama Samudraya,
Built by human endeavor. The depths
That are muddy, laden with freshwater weeds,
Floating salvinia plants,
And little fish, absconding from
Fishermen’s hooks, while children bathe
With a sense of freedom, as women
Balance pots on their heads
Taking water home.
We let trickles grow into
A gushing force, calling it a river,
Mahaweli to the Wak Oya, the giant
And the Lilliputian, the strong force
And the fragile tiptoeing. How there too
You have the same ingredients,
Women, children and fish.
While streams are everywhere, where
Children float little paper boats, and
Walk ankle-deep in water. The kingfishers
Look menacing in blue overalls,
Keeping an eye on the few miserly
Fish that swim, nowhere near
The banquets, of lakes and rivers.
Lakes, River and Streams,
Some, God’s vision and others, man’s innovation
Back in a time, where men built dams to
Preserve agriculture. The men, in tiny, stringed,
Smaller than a thong, fig leaf-size, loin coverings,
Sowing seed, a few at a time, knowing
Some will germinate, while others
Will become a treat for the sparrows.
How man, took on God, here,
To make lakes, and call them oceans.
Oceans, where little rafts paddle,
Collecting fish. A way of life, that still
Lives on even today.
Oceans, that gifts,
Irrigation to a place and time,
Where winds cool open buttock cheeks
And pedals a way of life. How farmers
Are servants of the water ways,
The little channels that flood a rice
field, to raise a peduncle, that in
Time will hold golden grains, as harvests,
While tourists look at the farmers in
Amazement, not just at their tiny
Garments, but also how they work
Long days, and sing at night, to
Keep the elephants away.
The beauty of a paddy field.
Green turning a beautiful gold,
Short growing into tall windfalls,
Scarecrows scaring the sparrows,
Mud climbing to the knees;
The craftsmanship of knowing, that
When the weather gods wallop,
They take with them, dirt off butt cheeks
But sweat off a physiognomy.
The tanned marks around alabaster teeth,
A farmer and weather, the strategies,
That get passed through oral traditions,
Just like lyrics of Pal Kavi.
Little poems, that rhyme away,
Like sonnets in the breezing wind,
The sarong knots, that are just as tight,
As their hold on destiny.
A way of life, that is threatened
By urbanization and growth. Lyrics, that
Keep eyes awake at nightfall,
The vigils of being a watcher,
While elephants loiter, and weather gods
Wallop. Two ferocious beasts of nature,
The elephantine and Huracan’s fury,
That tend to surprise sometimes,
Like lanes of traffic on heaven’s way,
Cumulus battling nimbus,
In a game of chess in the sky.