By Keki N. Daruwalla
The musturd is in flower,
streaking through the countryside,
band on yellow band,
acre on acre of light.
Half this world is mustard,
the other half is rye.
The musturd scent is sharp,
so is the smell of rye;
yet no one’s heard the Scarecrow sneeze
and no one’s seen him cry.
Mustard surrounds the kikar¹ tree
and swallows up its fallen thorns.
It slithers past the cattle shed.
It splashes past the village pond.
Past haunted-grove, abandoned house,
the ruined, ill-balanced temple spire,
out-greening grass, out-yellowing light,
December here is on fire.
And yet the fire is cold my dear
as any cold night would warn you.
A dry leaf fire, a rice straw fire
will certainly not burn you.
Music lovers shiver
and quite forget to sing.
The ground has turned so hard indeed,
the watchman’s footsteps ring.
The sesamum has ripened
there’s a white touch to the grass.
‘Walk carefully’, says the Scarecrow,
‘the dew has turned to glass.
But it won’t last forever——
winter too shall pass.’
1. Indian name of the acacia tree which has yellow or white flowers and a sticky sap used in making glue
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