The sodden dripping weight which he moulted
and offered to the god who received it
in cupped hands—was it skin
really, or rather something amphibious,
half metallic scales, half mutely screaming
integument smelling of fish, while
flayed Karna shivered from a cold
he had never thought to endure, shivered
animal-like, a mere beast
prepared for the cooking pot;
and walked to the battlefield certain
to be pierced by the first lance
aimed at him. But the burden!
Amazingly it had lifted,
and might it not be one’s heart’s desire fulfilled
to die unrehearsed of lightness.
Gieve Patel is a renowned Mumbai-based painter and poet.
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