Colombo

Colombo

The fiery motion of locomotion
The ear-shattering horns. A million cars on lanes
That know no margin. The smoke trails
And the slow migration from home
To bureau. The long stretches of asphalt
The jumping mud puddles
And the fading zebra crossings
All uniting on a surface
Where wheels are in slow motion.

And in this town, crows wear crowns
Looking down from their vantage points
On electric wires. Magpies become scary omens
Plaguing journeys on foot
And myenas forage their yellow beaks
In search of burrowing worms.
While birdmen search for wings
On road to the capital city.

And there are posters everywhere you look.
Of wrinkled politicians making campaign promises.
While you see elephants everywhere
On posters, on match sticks, on papadam packets
And in the backyard of temples.
A country fascinated by one creature
Known for her grace and tusks.

And in this part of Sri Lanka
There is still an abundance of beauty. The colorful
Sarongs and sarees, the colonial and the street bazaars,
The leafy canopies and the sky-scrapers,
The self-preservation and gradients of change
Of an admixture of many variables.
That unite to define a constant. The bond
Between civilian and town.

There are no second class citizens here.
Only children of a greater god
Brokered by the lust of a place.
Where a little symbol in a map
Houses a vast map-less dominion
Inside fibered sanctuaries
Of an enclosure.

We don’t need social contracts here.
Just native and nature
And a heart-clenched dogmatic patriotism
Of a heritage that blends so many cultures
Into one bowl of undisputed harmony
Of a city that continues to change
While preserving her organic identity

Modern and quaint, strange bedfellows they are
Juxtaposed on acres of seaside land
Old world beauty and new-world parsimony
Shuffled like a pack of cards
In to the discontinuity of archetypes
Like the time honored tradition of holy ground
In close proximity to star-powered hotels
The rustic charm and the blitzing color
Of fresh coats of paint. A place of navigable
Nostalgia and promises of renewal,
All mixing together like a masala of spices.

A time warp that puzzles the heart
Drawing the past closer and letting go
In the present. The saplings that are now
Giant trees. The street vendors who are now businessmen.
The anglicized names which are now native articulations.
And I, the teenager, who used to bat or bowl,
Now fielding in nostalgia. In my own refraction
Through the prism of a city.

Two worlds in one body.
Like a kiss time can never put asunder.

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Author: meandererworld (Dilantha Gunawardana)

Dr Dilantha Gunawardana is a molecular biologist who graduated from the University of Melbourne. He moonlights as a poet. His poems have been accepted/published in Forage, American Journal of Poetry, Kitaab, Eastlit and Ravens Perch. He mixes science with poetry for a living, when what matters is the expression of both DNA and words into something serendipitous. Although an Australian citizen, Dilantha is domiciled in Sri Lanka, his country of birth.

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