Deer Park at Sarnath

[Our dear friend Meena Alexander, poet, novelist, memoirist and distinguished Professor of

English at CUNY, sent us this poem in memory of Sunder.]


It seems impossible to begin
to speak of those gone ahead
intact, fired by breath.
Through flowering mustard
they race past a main road
northwards to the deer park.
In the terrible kindness of the dead,
they whisper as they pass
inscribe yourself if you can
on brick or bone or slate
then surrender it all with grace
rejoice in these trees
jutting windward.
A threshold
cut in rock
with seven kingdoms visible
is still no stopping place.
Clouds consume the palaces
of the gods,
stone chariots stir in soil
all Sarnath is covered in dirt.
There is no grief like this,
the origin of landscape is mercy.

(Meena Alexander, River and Bridge, 1995/ 1996)