DAMBULLA

I

 

in the deepest cave the ancient

carved stone reclines

soles of the feet

marked with winding circles

hands set in enlightened repose

 

each cave contains a statue

evolved over time

the last a gift

gaudily decorated as authentic

as a retail mannequin

 

we emerge into the light

from the depths of the cave

blinded by what we now know

 

II

 

at the entrance to the cave complex

shoes and thongs in random array

like the aftermath of some market bombing

a reminder of Sri Lanka’s recent past

MOUNT LAVINIA HOTEL

I

 

the liveried sentry

on guard against the 20th century

faded colonial colonnades

regimented

once the official home

of the Governor of Ceylon

 

II

 

around the pool

crows stand their distance

long trained to anticipate

staff flinging fireworks

in their direction

a gesture like striking a match

sufficient pantomime to set them to flight

a dance rehearsed

 

III

 

the Saturday brides assemble in their finest

gaudy saris billowing in the wind

waiting expectantly for their photoshoot

and their future

the Indian Ocean drives

against the rocks

as if to reclaim this promontory

letting us know

our presence here is transitory