Fragrance of Oranges and Cloves – Michele Belluomini

Fragrance of Oranges and Cloves


they were just some marionettes, hanging forlornly

seen through a grimy window    the closed variety store

a king and a queen, dressed in cloth from India

puppets to tell a story from the Ramayana perhaps

the store was closed    the day cold

I boarded the trolley and forgot them


but now they haunt me    jiggling stiff and awkward in mind’s eye

conjuring tales of the Gujarat:

elephant-headed gods, warrior-kings, tigers feasting on pomegranates

the goddess Ishwari, dancing in the monsoon rains of the Malabar coast

surrounded by fragrance of oranges and cloves

what do they want from me?


today it is raining     a cold, late winter rain

the wind bullying things over   pitching them down the street

keening songs into my ear

and I keep seeing the two of them there

abandoned in the shop      who am I to save them

save them?


just the sight of them stopped me

their strangeness flaring out amidst a hodgepodge of gloves,

umbrellas, other cheap bits and pieces afloat in the gray January light


something in me prised open

as if a story was about to begin, only wanting

for the main characters to take their places on the stage

the story cloth to be unfurled


maybe it’s that winter will not loose its hold

making me long for elsewhere

the tigers padding softly beside the tracks

carrying the illusion of journey fulfilled


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