Truth is what my father taught me

A look at today's environmental issues through the eyes of two well-known poets, exclusive to Down To Earth

By Jayanta Mahapatra
Published: Saturday 15 August 1992

-- Truth is what once my father taught me,
but that was years and ages back.
Today it gives me a cynical look from the ozone hole.
Its voice has lost its music, choking on chlorofluorocarbons,
it is just a voice that has airlessness to cross.

What do I care about leaders such as Bush or Major?
Or the nuclear power plant in Iowa I visited once,
or the deep, fiery throat of NASA?
Or European autobahns, or the ad for cat food which says:
'Shouldn't your cat eat like a hero too?'
The stomach of hopes begins to empty itself
when we stop to rest and think.
Nothing but green bile comes up even at a domestic summit.
Nothing but the inexhaustible delirium
of a solitude that runs away as we continue to stalk it.

If a billion people live in absolute poverty,
do I have to worry? So what if rainforests go?
The plush automobile still stands haughtily at the door.
God tells my people in that remote village of Koraput
that they'd have to pay for the sins of past lives.

God really knows how to fill the hungry bellies
in Africa and Asia with the silence of his voice.
God knows, and so he has gone on and on,
like the truth about those questions
he has never answered and I so want to forget.

---Poet Jayanta Mahapatra teaches physics at the S B Women's College, Cuttack.

Subscribe to Weekly Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.