The chain drags against the rough wood
of the stool on which the dog sleeps
It's yawn ends in a whine; forgotten misery
Soma didn't untie the dog tonight
I think. The thought keeps me awake
There's a sound like a shot, that
silences the dog and makes me start
A mango; the dented corrugated tin roof
gleaming dully in the halflight
with the huge crater, where
the jak fruit fell the other day
and nearly killed the dog
Two voices, draw closer and pass
They laugh. Campus students.
Hurt branches through me,
a lightning stroke.
Once they had insulted me
by the stream, where
my childhood used to play
I turn over, try to sleep
on my other cheek
From the adjoining bedroom
my parents’ generation
trying to reconcile
itself with itself.
A mosquito drones maddeningly
I ignore it, the net will keep it out.
A raised voice, from my sister's room
anguished, denying - frightened.
Fangs flash in the darkness,
the curse of a black bat, hoarse breathing
Her voice dies down
the stillness in my parents' room
I sense the sigh as one of them rises
by tacit agreement, to go and comfort her
I remember the times
I used to torment her
I twist and try again to sleep
The darkness throbs orange like a signal light
taunts my closed lids - fighting to sleep
I open them and find the firefly.
30 July 1995, University of Peradeniya