Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, KATHMANDU GUEST HOUSE, by KAREN SWENSON



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KATHMANDU GUEST HOUSE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Dogs bark themselves
Last Line: On whose faces the times keep changing.
Subject(s): Culture Conflict; Travel; Journeys; Trips


Dogs bark themselves
into the dark of their territories;
the monsoon hushes
to flickers of fingernails against my window,
leaving the foreign silence to be invaded
by chords of a foreign guitar. Voices,
from the European hotel next door, rise
singing, in accents varied as saris in the bazaar,
songs of the American sixties.

The courtyard is a mercury puddle lighted
by the moon -- pearl strung between clouds --
secure over the molars of the Himalayas.

I listen to their voices, as alien to the words
as they are a generation too young to recall
the songs they blow on the wind,
asking where all the flowers are gone.
I could label today
trumpet vine, lantana, bougainvillea,
familiar names becoming strange in this soil
while bud and bloom remain the same.

In the courtyard, a ruckus of vine
crumbles the bricks of Shiva's smile
carved above Buddha's tailored knees.

I see them cross-legged on the balcony next door,
puffing at the magic dragon,
singing in their prismed accents of Honah-Lee
accompanied by the courtyard cow's lowing bass.

All the time zones I have crossed --
New York to Nepal --
are a series of circling hands
pinned to the pivot of clocks
on whose faces the times keep changing.





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