Vishnu, the Maintainer, Maintains

the grids of the leakless metal hidden in the walls now;
they’re his domain — the pipes of a hundred thousand homes
in the greater metropolitan area; his servants
are many, and each armed with shining steel:

monkey wrenches. That rhymes for him with vanara1,
which brings old Rama to mind, and his lovely Sita.
He wonders, over a cold beer and lunchbag curry,
whether their love has grown clogged or enjoys good drainage.

His own runs latterwise, for Lakshmi does the books,
still that magnet of prosperity. She picked his vocation,
now orders parts, cuts deals with hardware stores.
She is as pretty as ever, though ninety pounds moreso.

He thinks of how many times the world has spun
since he first stepped onto it, with each turn round
of the bolt gripping the pipe, like a gopi girl her lover’s
flesh, or good old Krishna his songpipes back in the day.

And on his pipewrench it is inscribed, in stately
Sanskrit, a motto for the war against errant pipes
and sumps: Yato Dharma Stato Jayah:
“Where virtue is found, there too is victory.”

1. The vanara are monkeys, specifically in this case those with whom the hero Rama was forced to ally in order to win back his bride Sita in the epic Ramayana.

February 2, 2012

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