Srinivas Mandavilli

Visiting Golconda Fort

You return to the city in winding lanes,
   stop to buy pomegranates from a boy
      who stands by a goat with his stick.

You arrive at the ramparts, swayed
   by how certain things remain impregnable,
      climb stone stairways past bazaars & barracks,

hear bull-elephants smash metal spiked gates.
   You marvel at peacock and lotus motifs, your mind drifts
      into tunnels. On a high terrace, the air thin and rare.

All history becomes cool in the dimming dusk.
   You look down at Hyderabad, it sways in the distance
      in blue and orange bands of late summer heat. Tombs

dot the horizon like beasts resting on their haunches.
   You descend the hill, past the mosque and Kali temple,
      hear first a delicate flutter, scratching, percussive

flapping over the entire ceiling. Such bats must have also watched
   the siege of Aurangzeb. The dead arise, walk the battlements
      and bastions. When you sleep, you have no name.

A thousand bats fly in your skull, this time they make no sound.
   You hold up your hands, there are diamonds in your grasp
      as if you have dipped your hands into these granite hills.

This piece of history stops for you, puts its head
   in your hands. Then you begin the faithful work
      of returning. You find a guide to tell you a story you know.

Srinivas Mandavilli is a pathologist in Hartford, Connecticut, went to medical school in India and then trained in oncologic pathology in the United States. He is the author of a chapbook Gods in the Foyer, (Antrim House) and has had poems published in Indolent Books, The Raven’s Perch, CT River Review, Caduceus, Long River Run, Theodate, JAMA, Freshwater, Drunken Boat, SN Review. He lives in West Hartford, with his wife and two daughters.

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Spring 2021