Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Yes, Yes, Yes
for Pujo Raj

by  Deborah Bayer                

You say, Take my hand.
I balk.  Where are we going?
For a ride with Shiva.
The Destroyer?  I taste dust.
Do you want to see the Hoopoe?
More than anything, I whisper.
Hop on the motorcycle.
I obey.

What about my dance partners,
fear and duty?
Won’t they wonder where I am?
Now you are the one to whisper:
No worries.
Road wind sweeps away doubt
and I grip Shiva’s waist.

We pass palm trees, temples,
rickshaws, tea stalls,
meandering cows, a scarecrow
wearing a ragged pink sari.
It’s a speed I can manage
and just as I’m thinking Shiva is more
of a gentleman than I’d been led
to believe we almost collide
with two strolling monks,
bent with age.  They take
it in stride.  No worries.

Shiva parks the bike and leads
the way down a dirt path,
past a pond, a cluster
of homes, and across a dry field.
I scramble to keep up.
He turns and looks at me,
I feel seen in my entirety.
His head wobbles side to side.
I nod in return.
We’ve assented to something—
something I can’t name.
oop-oop-oop he calls out
to the north, to the south
and gets no answer.
No worries.

Pausing, listening. looking—
Yes, you brought me here,
to this moment.
Yes, I am in India
in sunset’s golden light.
Yes, I am chasing a bird
and Shiva is my guide.

When he takes another step
I’m right there with him,
up fly a pair of Hoopoes
white bars adorning
black wings spread wide.
My arms lift in praise,
as if I too could take to the skies.
When the birds settle nearby,
we creep forward to admire
their black-spotted crests.

For a moment everything
is bathed in luminosity—
the wacky Hoopoes,
my dirty sneakers, the kids
perched on a blue wall,
Shiva’s triumphant grin.
Yes, we’re all dancing together
hurling through the cosmos
on a planet turning
toward its moon.


  1. Wonderful -- in all senses of the word.

  2. I feel transported and pause for the sight of our moonless sky.

  3. Lots to like here: the description of the Indian countryside (especially the scarecrow in the sari); the poet's concern, relaxing into pleasure; the description of the Hoopoe, making that beautiful bird come alive for us; and the expansion at the end, where we see the moon rising.

  4. Favorite lines: What about my dance partners, Shiva's triumphant grin, and especially; we're all dancing together, hurling through the cosmos. I loved this life affirming poem, full of life and energy.

  5. Aimee

    So discriptive that I felt like I was experiencing this moment in her life.

  6. I'm happy you were able to put down in poetic words your experience of that day to see the Hoopoe. I remember when you tried to narrate it for me. Beautiful poem.

  7. Very touching. Puts the reader right on the spot. Keep it up Deborah! - Martin P