I stood to one side in a field, waiting.
At my back, the spreading warmth of brick.
Light came from the other side, striking first
the feet. It grew, it travelled over the gentle
landscape of the stomach. The lower arms
had broken away, taking their objects with them.
Lotus and book remained; the conch, ‘endless
spiral of the breath of Vishnu’, was gone, though
my mind flooded with the shimmering attribution.
Word came from the guidebook; I straightened
before prophesy. At half past five precisely shafts
of sunlight struck the face. The god’s expression
deepened. I saw the one that they name ‘four-armed’
incarnate in the natural miracle of sunset.
Having stepped aside from metaphor and sacked
authority in one tradition, why re-install them
in a little Hindu temple in a field? You tread
a tourist track; you know that anywhere the questions
are the same. If you’re looking for an answer, stay
with the Chandela sculptor, who drew upon the stunts
of the setting sun. Don’t wrest your mind into deeper
murkier channels. Leave revelation at the god’s look
burnished to surpass the standard sculpted smile.
And leave it there in its own landscape
with other restive atavistic longings. Leave
perception in its shell of wonder, as you watch
the sun go down on a tableau that will not be
translated into what it is you think you might have lost.