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Dawn on Arunachala

Neera Kashyap has authored a book for young adults, 'Daring to Dream', and contributed to several prize-winning anthologies for children. Her poetry has been featured in Indian anthologies such as 'Hibiscus & Shimmer Spring', 'Freedom Raga & New Normal', 'The Shape of a Poem' and 'The Brown Critique Anthology'. International poetry anthologies that have featured her work are 'The Poet’s Seasons', 'Poetica' (1& 2), 'The Kali Project', 'Voices from Within' and 'Hunger Anthology'. Her work has also been featured in various journals such as 'Verse Virtual', 'Life & Legends', 'Failed Haiku & Setu Magazine' , 'RIC Journal' (Indo-French); 'Bloo Outlier', 'Kitaab', 'The Punch Magazine', 'Kritya', 'The Literary Yard' and Narrow Road etc.

In the pre-dawn darkness the hill is not visible.

The tarred road tinged blue by foggy lights stretches straight ahead.

Saffron-clad figures lie on pavements; sit crouched, blue and foggy.

A clatter of coins from a bowl, an indifferent call for alms is the fullness of detachment.

Neither this nor the odd temple bell breaks the solemnity of this long circumambulation

of the hill.

Pilgrims walk in silence - singly, in pairs, in groups, breaking pace

only to enter wayside temples, shrines, ashrams, sacred groves…

to offer money, flowers, incense, prayers, chants;

to sit on dark rocks, faces turned to a dawn awaited

till it comes, revealing the holy hill in a rugged outline of light

its humps, its god-like shapes, its union of many forms,

green and barren, rock and forest, beacon and promise

till all is visible – pink sky, green fields, black panels of

wayside deities, already marked by the vermilion of worship.

The aroma of filter coffee vents steamily from copper barrels.

The straight road now curves into the bustling bristling town,

to the litter of streets, the smell of frying snacks,

the hangover of a stale unswept night.

I turn to look at the hill.

It looks the same - on silent road, in bristling market.

Holding the same promise to both….

A silent, aloof, resplendent indifference to it all.

Dawn On Arunachala: Welcome
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