Ganesha Lost to View

Jennifer Mackenzie

 

400 sampan+

carrying soldiers

made shore at Panjan island

only a few fishermen appeared in front of

their armed adversaries, the rest having fled

 

the mangrove trees

flourished in such tropical balm

 

hidden in their density

an unfinished Ganesha

a scattering of chisels lay near

its curling trunk

‘Spit on it!’ someone ordered

‘Touch its trunk, it has no sakti!’^

 

nervously, they touched the statue

nervously, they knocked it down

cold to the touch  abandoned  just a lump of stone

Ganesha

heaved   rolled   pushed

through the brambles & roots of the swampland

up a small hill &

out to sea

 

it took a long time

 

+small boat

^divine power

* derived from an episode in Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s Indonesian language novel, Arus Balik [Cross-currents] (Hasta Mitra, Jakarta 1995), set principally in fifteenth century Java.

 

Jennifer Mackenzie is a poet and reviewer, focusing on writing from and about the Asian region. She has participated in a number of literary festivals and conferences, including the Ubud, Irrawaddy and Makassar festivals. Her most recent book is Borobudur and Other Poems (Lontar, Jakarta 2012) and she is currently working on a collection of essays, ‘Writing the Continent’, and a poetic exegesis of the work of Pramoedya Ananta Toer, ‘Navigable Ink’.

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