“THERE’S NO THROUGH TRAIL” —HAN-SHAN, TRANSLATED BY GARY SNYDER
/ Motherland

Motherland

by Sarath Reddy

As the plane descended into the smog of Chennai
I awoke to fields of sugar cane stretched 
to the horizon, villages pushing back forests.

Concrete cities erupting between temples- 
rock stacked upon rock
wrenched from the Deccan kiln.

The turbulence of one billion souls-
ragas and rickshaws pretending a certain logic,
weaving with Bollywood choreography.

Until then there was no place hotter than Atlanta in July,
Reborn a century after its fiery demise
as strip malls, Baptist churches, glass skyscrapers

Unable to escape the maze of mother’s sari,
I was split between two plots of earth—
knees stained with Georgia clay,

torn between southern drawl
and contortions of my mother 
tongue, uncertain which god I should fear.

Would I be Vishnu, dwarf transformed 
to reclaim the earth in three giant steps or
recede into the cracks of my fractured world?

Sarath Reddy

About Sarath Reddy

Sarath Reddy is a physician whose poetry has been shaped by his experiences as a father, physician, and Indian-American. Sarath’s poetry has been published in the Journal of the American Medical AssociationOff the Coast, and Please See Me.  His work is forthcoming in Hunger MountainPoetry EastAnother Chicago Magazine, and Paterson Review. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts with his wife and three children.

Cold Mountain Review is published once a year in the Department of English at Appalachian State University. Support from Appalachian’s Office of Academic Affairs and College of Arts and Sciences enables CMR’s learning and publications program. The views and opinions expressed in CMR do not necessarily reflect those of university trustees, administration, faculty, students, or staff.