Cathedral in the Park

is Associate Professor and Head of the Department of English at St Agnes College (Autonomous), Mangalore, India.

We were a people of slow messages,
rich contexts, heavy rituals;
elaborate sacrifices marked our worship
of a pantheon of shining Gods
each demanding attention
in a cycle of narratives
written over centuries by sages,
and once, a highwayman-turned-hermit

Meditation was slow, but cut deep
and mined the zero from the void,
sent it rolling softly across the world,
and rooted space in the origin
of three axes;
History curled upon itself
in the rhythms of the seasons;
speed and time measured physical bodies –
not men of flesh and soul
who grappled with eternity

We grew slowly:
split open the sac of culture
and see the lovely saffron seed
flecked green and white;
watch the temple dome and architrave
accommodate the minaret;
witness the waft of incense
joined with attar
speaking the blend of peoples

But your cathedrals grew too quickly,
too soon, cold marble
replaced soft crystalline cave;
baptismal waters
washed away our vermilion;
too quickly our jungles yielded
to your parks


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