Theme: Environment

Keepers of the Torch

He presides over the park
3000 square miles of natural wonder,
Active geysers and waterfalls,
Hot springs and mud pots
Tall trees reaching upwards,
In communion with celestial powers;
There is something holy and hallowed here,
Ethereal stillness that is almost mystical,
Even as time is frozen while it snows
Layers and layers of it
Thick and chunky white slabs,
Falling on the park-keeper’s roof.
His cottage groans and creaks,
As the wind batters it from all sides,
Coal fire burning inside to keep him warm.
Life in the wilderness: heroism and fortitude
Snow and solitude his only companions.
Many animal species roam the park
Open spaces that are nature’s gift
They wander and stare, catching the keeper’s eye.
Once he saw a tiger, the ultimate predator, watching him
Cut snow slabs with a large saw
The sheer physical effort was impressive
The tiger just yawned, the snow rendering him passive.
He understood the natural harmony;
The order, the status quo; to defer to nature.
In autumn, the tribes would drop by,
They had no dialect, they spoke in musical tones
Words had escaped them; dialogue consisted of dulcet exchanges.
The park-keeper was in awe; the feeling was reciprocal.
Deference and respect; there was no written accord or treaty
There wasn’t any need.
Man, nature, animals and birds.
Living in a utopian dreamland.
Alas, the borders are shrinking fast
The frontiers, the physiology, the topography,
The ancient landscape; all irreversibly damaged.
Invaders arrive in droves in summer
They are not alone; they bring their worst excesses.
It’s now an existential crisis, a futile fight for survival.
The odds are diminishing rapidly
The park-keeper is the last of his kind 
As is the Bhutan glaciologist, measuring glacial depths,
Up in the deadly mountains, placating the mythical snow lion,
Wandering among the rare fabled blue sheep.
But the pristine purity has long been eviscerated.
The battle between the avaricious interloper
And the permanence of nature is raging unabated.
Earth is punctuated with fatal casualties of this war.
The threshold has long been crossed;
The soul of our planet, once revered and worshipped,
Lies decimated, desecrated and defiled.
The park-keeper has hung up his thermal gloves and spade.


More By  :  Kewal Paigankar

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