I could not find you, my lord
in the empty hall
of that huge banal building
up the hill in San Antonio,
they call the temple.
The large oblong flaps
in the middle of the forehead
of your idols,
reach down to your nose
to obliterate your features,
caricaturing you in the process
into a brooding visage.
Your comely consort, by your side,
gets a treatment no different!
A tiny saffron dot, instead,
would have been quite in place.
The soul is missing, as well,
in your unique incarnation
we call the Ardhanareshwara*,
incarcerated inside the AC-cooled gazebo
on the ridge of the hill,
by the side of this temple -
sculpted in male and female so poorly,
dressed and ornamented so grotesquely,
flowers strewn around in a flurry –
looking so out of place, so lonely.
Having come all the way
to rediscover you here in this land of plenty,
this utopia, the united states of America,
am I to return with my hands empty,
my lord Siva?
Brooding like your idols,
low in spirits, shaken in faith,
I come out of the temple
to the sizzling slaps of hot air
fuming from the sun-baked concrete of the temple yard,
eyes blinding with the glare,
skin inflamed with the blazing sun.
I sit outside
on a solitary, creaky bench,
under the gossamer shade of a baby oak,
as lonely as your images and idols inside.
And there you materialize,
in your full grandeur and glory -
in so many shapes in the silvery clouds
that gently glide across the azure sky;
in the hot breeze that cools my burning brow;
in the lone eagle circling high,
buoyed by the brazen wind,
flying freely in aimless abandon;
in the distant skyline across the valley
defined by the rolling hills -
their domes like so many temples
to your ineffable presence;
in the limitless vision of your boundless nature,
that can never ever be confined
in trappings of silver and gold
in a dim corner of a mean building
of timber and marble, brick and stone.
*Ardhanareshwara – half female half male