E. B. Veerasingam

Oriental Queen

A marble palace adorns the bay.
Ships sail in with Arabian perfumes,
Brazilian Coffee and Spices from Kerala.

Bullock-Carts roll-in through the courtyard,
While the bell and the lantern continue to dance
To the rhythm of the bull’s walk;
Carts loaded with caskets full of diamonds,
And woven cloth from the Silk Route,
For the Royal vision,
Taste buds,
Olfactory hunger
And the tactile thirst
To be satisfied.

She was found among the virgins
Who went to pluck yellow mangoes,
On their way back from the chilling springs,
After spending the summer-noon
Frolicking and bathing,
With laughter that disturbed
The painful silence of nature.

The royal boats floating among the mangroves
And the king’s horses roaming among the creeping bushes
With servants in search of a Queen
For the Majestic lineage,
Came closer, allured by the virgin prances.

The wind from the bamboo bushes,
Identified her voice to be musical and exceptional,
While her soft maiden laughter
Wasn’t new to the fins and feathers
That had witnessed her silent puberty.

The turmeric yellow on her cheeks
And the smell of fresh herbs
From the palm-woven carton
That relaxed on her hip,
Made her gracious presence
Felt by those nearby.

Her fingers, that otherwise pluck tendrils,
Became engaged in setting her forelock
At the sudden site of the servants
Who arrived on time, minutes before
She got into a boat
Loaded with violet orchid garlands,
And a ferryman ready;
Ready to take her
To the other side of the river.

Horses went galloping with urgency
In the path that led to the palace,
And the fading sounds of those trained beasts,
Brought the royal chariots.

Elderly eyes with expertise scanned her.
With nodding of heads,
She was wrapped in a pure white cloth.
Milk and honey was poured on her,
And at the river bank
Her innocence was proved.

Chosen to be the royal bride,
Her ears and nose witnessed the pearl rings,
Her feet, the Princely anklets,
Her fingers, the rubies and sapphires
And she was taken in a palanquin,
That was filled with sandalwood crafts
And enveloped with the finest fabrics of the land.

The neighbouring kingdoms were invited,
And the processions of the regal elephants
Garnished the streets of the empire.

The majestic rings were exchanged,
And the Thaali,
Patterned with detail by the Royal goldsmith,
Adorned her slender neck,
On which emeralds, topazes, amethysts and jonquils
Were carefully placed.

Somewhere lost in the crowd,
Hiding behind a large trunk
Of one of the yellow mango trees
Was a young lover, snarling with loss,
As he watched his beloved girl
Becoming the Royal Bride.

The King’s spies would never know
That this young lad
Had himself dressed as the ferryman
And waited with garlands of orchids
Filled in his boat, by the river,
To take her into his world,
On that fateful day;
The day she was found by the Royal servants.

Drops of tears
That summarise his blood stream,
And the mournful song of his heart,
Are now ready to float in pain,
In the flow of the river of life.

And that is
One of the beauties
Of human nature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

E. B. Veerasingam is from Batticaloa, Sri Lanka. He is a Lecturer in English Studies at the Department of Languages and Communication Studies of the Eastern University, Sri Lanka (Trincomalee Campus). His schooling was at St. Michael’s College, Batticaloa and he graduated from Bangalore University (T.John College Campus) with a B.A. in English, Psychology and Journalism. He later obtained his M.A. from the prestigious Christ University, India. With a vision of being an inspiration for many others to become writers, he has set off in a journey of poetry, while finding the simplest people and incidents around him, as inspirations behind his poetry.