A Hundred Gourds 3:4 September 2014

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page 15  

Paresh Tiwari - India

Sword of Honour

in memory of Lt Cdr Kapish Muwal

Too soon they come - the fumes and the curdling stench of battery acid. The white tendrils curl slowly around the steel-mesh light fixtures. The fire fighting systems engage and the compartment seals shut as the pale green numbers on his digital watch go by in slow motion.

But he knows that death when she comes will be swift, like a raptor swooping down on its prey.

Has he done his bit? Can he let go now?

Closing his eyes he lets the years gone by flood in . . .

safe in the arms of his mother
hold your breath

he crosses the finishing line      the applause
threads of red lace his eyes

off the rain drenched train      a platform full of recruits
the need to breathe now

limb tearing pushups      regulation haircut       the training
smoke and bile       smoke       s m o k e       s m o k e

best all-round cadet      the golden stripes
face down in oil grime      h   o   l   d     don’t breathe      s m o k e . . .

the first bouts of cough      blood      breathe      s m o k e . . .

then nothingness . . .

Outside, in the growing Babel of voices, a rusting cigar hull continues to smoke feebly.

noon stillness
tracing the rustle of
a young leaf


Sword of Honour - The award conferred to the best all round cadet of a course in Indian Military Academies.

The Haiku is the winning entry from the Shiki Kukai: Apr 14.

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