My sis sent me two easy reads on India for my birthday, Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure by Sarah MacDonald, and Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India by William Dalrymple. Reading the latter, and coming home yesterday, gave me this poem this morning.
For All I Know
When I come home, my neighbor does not bark,
her dog does, short, sharp cuffings of the musty air,
but she’s not home yet or else ignores my tramping
up the stairs. In two years, I have seen her, maybe,
three or four times. Once, with a young man her age
never seen again, unlocking her door. On a Saturday,
coming down the stairs with her dog, brunette terrier.
Yet another time, she was alone, pushing open ahead
of me the building entrance, sliding in her boyish hips.
For all I know, she could be a dear votary of Yellamma,
dedicated to sacred prostitution, one of the nine lives
recorded by William Dalrymple in his Indian travels,
or a hereditary singer of the Rajasthani epic of Pabuji.
Do the singers even like dogs? For all I know, they are
kept for meat. For all I know, they sing for their supper.
Dalrymple does not say. Dogs are outside his ambit.