Indian Night

Indian Night

I wrote this one early morning while teaching outside of Mumbai, thinking about the devastation due to mosquito-born illnesses. We had talked about those persistent pests when there, who buzz near your ear to let you know they are in control.

That buzz may stir you. But what is stirring on a different level and in a different way is the massive number of people who die from the royal mosquito. His buzz is the sound of war.

He’s potentate for a night, but there is more to his story.


Indian Night
Jim Elliff

Come royal mosquito,
potentate for a night,
to drink the blood of Brahmin and outcast.

Tax at your pleasure.
Mix the wine of ancient and infant, angry and sweet.

Leave them spoils—
chills and pestilence—
for your trouble.

You are too full to laugh;
too weak to resist the goblet of our flesh.
You hide to strike when we have no defense.

But you will die like mere man;
like a prince who rises in his season, you will perish in a moment.
You are food for a bat
and a smear for a wall.

Remember your captain, fiend of mine.
He grants you a moment,
and spreads the supper you cannot resist,
to cast down armies with your lust.
You are but a means.

Weep thirsty little king, if only you could.
You have no will but to do as he made you.
You will not even know your part. You will not see it.

For he raises his eternal army from your dead with blood of a nobler kind.

Copyright © Jim Elliff 2017