Sudesh Mishra is a poet and playwright who was born and brought up in Fiji, but
now lives in Melbourne.
The Grand Pacific Hotel
A palatial building with broad verandahs and luxurious lounges, coffee rooms, etc.,
where cooling drinks or the refreshing cup of afternoon tea, are served in truly
oriental style by white-turbaned waiters.
Herald Handbook, 1921
Clumps of vesi trees bob in bilge-water;
The offal-green drapery of the sea
Drapes the nothing of a louvred horizon.
The ocean is my sponsor. I forgive it
Everything Ė those years spent nursing ratoons
Under sunís and planterís gong. Now itís easy.
I will answer to many sobriquets.
Coolie is the most familiar. Tonight
They play whist over their gins. And I wait.
As always I wait, devouring such nouns
As cricket and veranda. The trades blow
Through wicker chairs. I tire of the turban,
The looped cerements of my non-presence.
Some day I will name myself in their script.
from Tandava, Melbourne: Meanjin Press, 1992
Inclement weather. Weíre rowing between two rocks
For a third which is palpable yet unreachable.
We had foreknowledge of this before setting off
From a port with a name too fluttery to pin down.
Before us, the channel sticks out a tongue,
Raw, wildly gangrenous, and vows to steer us
Safely beyond the cape of pulsing knives.
Itís a wasted pledge since our one belief
Is the substance of a doubt, solid, unprisable
As the shell stigmata badging the gunwale,
Signifying the passage of being not time.
So, framed by two rocks, we aim the prow
Towards a third that neither wanes nor grows,
Certain that our reach will exceed our grasp.
© Sudesh Mishra 2003