Saturday, January 7, 2012

Poem from Pondicherry

Everything cobbles itself
on the rubble of ancient cities
You crib your divine
from village gods, fierce and fickle
Even now kuta and shala
are counted and copied
But the plant that eases labor
is never etched on temple walls
And did  you know
that milk of water buffalo is rich as keer?
The Pondicherry sun scorches paths
to garlanding priests
One's divine is work,
The other's,  happiness.


  1. "But the plant that eases labor/is never etched on temple walls": Outstanding!
    Still--"Even now kuta and shala/are counted and copied"-- ? Quite sonorous (break after "even now"/from iambic pentameter?)-- I had to look up the two words which only led to more mystery???
    kuta:--place in Bali/Australian slang for good, the best, the greatest/archaic Finnish for 'who'/colloquial Swedish~'to run'...'to rise up or awaken' in Chumash (Cal. Native American) reincarnation theology...???

    shala:--prob. from Sanskrit 'house', house (studio) of yoga/Babylonian+Akkadian war goddess, goddess of grain (!), consort of the war god Adad

    Please say more!

  2. Sorry, SB, for not replying sooner. I have been working on a whole new posting because I have had a number of requests for deconstruction of this poem. I am actually doing research on kuta and shaala under the direction of Padma Kaimal, one of our wonderful leaders, and an expert on Hindu temple architecture. When I wrote the poem I knew enough to appreciate the patterns of repetition that characterize this design and to identify it in temples we visited, I also knew that this ancient design continues into the contemporary era. We saw a new temple under construction in Pondicherry that employed kuta and shallah patterning. I promise the new posting soon, and it will feature two gorgeous photos taken by Chris Henke which will clarify my better articulated explanation, including the symbolism of kuta and shaala. Incidentally, the spelling of shaala is wrong in my poem. Barbara