Krishna Kshetra Swami (16-08-21)
(an ekphrastic piece)
All visitors—the curious, the would-be art critics, the kids on school assignments—
all have left the art museum. It’s closing time.
Lights are out, doors are locked and the last watchman has left for home.
The high and wide walls of precious paintings and ponderous tapestries are silent, their populations of battling warriors, primly posing princesses,
sorry sailors on sinking ships, plump nude beauties,
still-lifes of rotting pomegranates and abstractions of no-thing-in-particular
have all turned inward to themselves,
resigned to their brush-stroked and framed
or meticulously woven nocturnal destinies.
All rooms are dark, except one. From where this light shines forth?
Over here, on this side? Yes, I might have known!
Krishna, baby Krishna, is that you being your self-luminous playful kid-self again?
Is this your brilliant bluish raincloud complexion lighting up my vision of you?
Is that reassuring light flashing across the framed vestibule the full moon
just prior to your servant Indra’s bringing on his stormful clouds?
Well well! It’s a grand show you have in the making, but no one’s awake to see:
The nameless guards slumped in drunken stupor are as good as dead,
and it’s good they’re so, aiding your play,
for you are fully alive, fresh-born and faultless,
bouncing merrily out in your father’s confident arms
as you show him the way out, eager to meet your beloved Yamuna.
But what’s the story with this gigantic multi-headed serpent?
He must be a key player in your fun.
Does Vasudeva know he’s there?
Vasudeva, whatever you do, don’t turn around!
Just keep walking swiftly…swiftly, but oh, so softly!
Don’t wake that little tiger (the guard’s pet cat?),
and for God’s sake (for Krishna’s sake!) don’t trip over that guard’s left foot!
Fresh-born Krishna, you know perfectly well where you are going,
and you know the best way how to get there.
You also know just how to inspire an artist to paint your clever escapade,
giving him those mysterious skills of eye and hand to turn paint into magic emerging from his heart. So it’s no surprise:
you know how to give me the eyes to see you in his painting,
and how to make the museum watchmen absent-minded enough to leave me here, just to have your undisturbed darshan in complete silence
(careful not to trip the museum’s alarm system).
But did your artist know that you would end up confined here in this museum,
even as he painted your great prison break?
And did you tip him off that I would be captured by your carefree countenance,
as Vasudeva cradles you in his strong arms?
The museum guards returning routinely tomorrow morning,
turning on the lights and finding me here will demand,
in anxious tones, to know my means of access, my purpose,
I will smile at them in reply and gesture toward you, baby Krishna;
and as they look over to you, you—
this little blue bundle of sat-cit-ānanda in Vasudeva’s arms
guarded by the Unlimited Remainder (Ananta Śeṣa)—will bless them.
Or will you be already gone by then, hastening to meet your friends in Vrindavan?