western sydney fugue

By | 1 February 2022

4. glenwood

in the dark lines of my palm
my ancestors are with me
in everything I hold
& everything I let go

burnt-sugar brown
arsenic love by any other name
eyes of glass
a snake winding across the sand
carving treble clefs
into the land
ash from a funeral pyre
a moth-wing petal
soft upon the hand

& when I awaken
the tarmac is a rush of hot diamonds
in the road north from blacktown
towards glenwood, where the golden domes
of the gurdwara glimmer dreamlike
through the grainy filter of dusk

charcoal skins & henna hands
I was born indian but raised nigerian, raised nigerian but
educated british, educated british but certified australian
(mera joota hai japani, et cetera)
I am a gordian knot
of identities
& I like it that way, but the gurbani always
reminds me that these identities
do not quantify me nor qualify me
or contain that which is within me

the gurdwara at glenwood is
a dove, a quietude, a music. despite the hundred
or more people of all faiths
gathering for the weekend langar, a stillness
& a silence pervades the space, a white lotus unfolding
within us
with a steady radiance that thrums & pulses. the low murmur
of the granthi’s voice reading the sacred hymns
is as constant as the sound
of the ocean, currents of light
transporting us to the centre of
the great, throbbing blossoming
at the core of us all

I am not sikh but I
know this song, have heard this song
resonating within the glass bowl of the sky
at dawn

mera joota hai japani: “my shoe is japanese,” a line from a classic bollywood song about an indian migrant
gurbani: the sacred hymns of sikhism
langar: a communal kitchen based in a gurdwara that serves free food to all in need, regardless of religion or caste
granthi: a ceremonial reader of the gurbani

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