All my journeys, even the quick trips
to top up the fridge, to the corner store
were pilgrimages – I just didn’t know it –
sacred without the fuss of unstitched cloth.
Sacred without strong curling incense smoke
without the sound of bells, and sandal paste,
everyday sacred – a flea bitten dog
by the roadside rooting in the vats
raising his head at my scent, to sniff
and drop it back again in the trash,
a sudden war-conch blare in the traffic
inching forward to meet the peak hour rush.
All of them were pilgrimages – each one
on hallowed ground without any milestone.
Each step peels away in moments, yet builds
a spine and shrinks it too, it is deepened
even as it is deeply scooped and stripped.
I walk home with rice and a frozen chicken.
Is the body a cell? It never felt
a prison, the room never like a shrine,
the sacred always outside in a world
of rotting mango peels, feet crumbed with grime
washing at the gobbets of old tube wells.
My heels are cracked with winter, lashes spiked
with discharge, but they can bear witness still
to the small miracles of runway lights
guiding the plane back on land. Every trip
a sacredness – I just didn’t know it.
Yet it knows, deep within its chemical paths
the body knows and responds to sacred -
that’s why it stands barefoot on the earth
turns to the red glow beyond its shut eyelids,
and opens them for dogs on garbage heaps,
thinks the doorsill is its point of conflict. –
There's a degree of sacred in concrete,
if the earth's paved over, nothing's diminished.
And that’s why it walks to the corner store,
onto the four point crossing, and the bus stop
and beyond that, and beyond! goes where it goes
in blind tribute, yanked by its own make up.
That’s why it leaves, the fridge’s just a pretext,
and why it comes back and plans where to go next.