Adrift down the Longitudes
By Pratim Milton Datta
“E quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle” (And then we went out to see the stars again)
Dante’s Inferno, Canto XXXIV, 139.
An acacia needle fell at dawn!
Kissed the earth, said “Goeie More!”
Briefly sneezing to the yellow dusk
Shaken and stirred from an elephant walk.
While a drifting merlot leaf
Like a serrated rice paper
Wishes the great white,
“Good hope by the cape!”
Far north, a Roller birdie swept the currents
Catching the drift to southern climes!
“Salve,” cry the clams, tipping their shells
To the ferro shimmering on canal grande,
Happy to meet the Adriatic
Yet not ruled by Apulian gods!
Leagues south, dusk breaks a Puglia bread
And some Primitivo spills on Dalmatian shores
Staining a Kaiki’s olive woods hull to preface
A nihilistic discourse, “sic transit gloria vinum!”
All while the standing Obelisk sighs, “un matin triste,”
Longing for its sands, and some reprieve
From guillotines, parisians, and selfies,
While gazing at Les Invalides, and feeling like one!
Perhaps an SNCF to Marseille, some vin Provençal
And bouillabaisse en route back home!
Until the Roller breaks its daydreams, says “tout a bien?”
And flies south to pick fights with the flowers in Grasse!
Picking on some Rothschild grapes, hitchhiking the Vendaval,
Battling the Khamsin, equating the Equator starboard off the Sphinx,
En route to Krugersdorp, breezing by the Drakensberg
The Roller perches, this time, on a swaying obelisk
Of a Giraffe,
Craning to catch the falling acacia thorn,
“…oops, the needle!”
The Giraffe’s sunlit eyes plead to the Roller;
“Little Roller, could you pick for me,
The thorn of love?
For Ubuntu, and a perch a few yards closer to the stars?
And we shall gaze at the heavens together?”