A Midsummer Night’s Black Dream

Was there a moon?
Maybe not.
Or just a sliver.
Enough to guide us
As we crept along the ground.
Animals. Predators.
Our muscles taut with
The intensity of our focus.
Almost bent to the ground,
Tripping on shrubs and stones
We crawled along,
Getting closer to our prey.
We could almost smell
the blood of strangers
Powerfully drawing us on.
A creature resting in the
faint moonlight.
A white van, ghostly,
Was there a star above?
Maybe not.
Holding our breath.
we crept closer,
peered in,
A man, an ordinary man,
Sat with two small boys,
hair of gold.
He was reading to the children
from a book.
A story? What was it about?
“I Am the Light of the World,
He that followeth me,
Shall not walk in darkness.”
In the still night
we heard the words.
Our anger overwhelmed us.
How dare he speak of
light and love
In a foreign tongue?
How dare he infect us
With this vile claim?
Wild animal fury
fueled us
We poured oil around the van
And lit it. The blaze flared up.
Through the glass, we saw
The man trying to save the boys-
Arms round each other,
they were screaming,
Desperate. Doors locked. No escape.
Ashes. Black stubs.
Golden hair gone.
Bible burned.
Was there a Cross in the corner
Which was not burning?
We held hands, and danced
around the burning van,
Our hate assuaged,
Our hearts thumping,
Bodies primed.
Celebrating the victorious moment.
Jai Bajrang Bali.
We the strong.
The moon had disappeared.
There was no star.
There was no light.
Nothing left
Except the dying flames
In that dying light.
Nothing left but the bare bones
of grief.

Anna Sujatha Mathai has five books of Poetry in English: Crucificions; We, the Unreconciled; The Attic of Night; Life - on my Side of the Street; and Mother's Veena. Her poems have been translated into several European and Indian languages and have been included in Indian Literature; the Commonwealth Journal; The London Magazine, etc. Read other articles by Anna.