Church of Our Lady of Good Health – by Sabari Nathan (tr. Vivekanand Selvaraj)


I like country churches
While chicken play around in the porch,
on the steps sit little girls, passing their time picking lice
And almost always locked are those sacred chambers
in the holy presence
of drying bloody red chilies

Indolently swayed across the front, dried palm crosses
Resident in roof tiles are vagabond squirrels
The white cat that nestled its kitten in last year’s manger
is stretching itself towards the yellow star with blue dots
Nothing. no vaults, no festive lights no pews
Just a few islands of light float on the cold brick floor

Old tiles require changing; the floor needs sweeping
at least once a week. On blackout nights,
just like all other houses, there too a famished candle shines feebly
No one is giving darshan there. In his father’s house,
as an unemployed graduate once-in-a-while
running errands, with sisters at marriageable age— lives Jesus
Mary, returning from tiring work in the woods, finishes her bath and sets out
to get embers

Seems like it will rain


(translated from the Tamil by Vivekanand Selvaraj)