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Tag: #StanSwamy

Father Stan Swamy Came to Delhi Last Week

I was sitting near the back 
at the launch of G.N. Saibaba’s 
book of poems and letters from prison
when he slipped into the seat on my left– 
I might not have noticed, 
but his white hair was glowing 
like a Christmas star,
or a tube light hung on the wall
behind the priest at at Midnight Mass.
His tremors were mostly gone;
I only saw him shake once–
when A.S. Vasantha Kumari 
described the solitary confinement 
cells in the Nagpur Central Jail.
He disappeared before the Q and A,
but later as I stood outside with friends
giving thanks for the cool May rain
we heard him whisper as he passed:

Breathe deep, comrades, breathe deep–
tonight you can smell the forest.
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For My Mother, That Baby and Father Stan Swamy

The day my mother calls
to confess she’d woken in tears
(she still misses her mother, 
after so many years),
I am blessed to meet
a six-week-old baby girl;
drunk on her mother’s milk,
she smiles as she sleeps
sprawled on a charpai,
like a pehlwan
after a hard-won match.
Later that night,
I read that Stan Swamy
can no longer walk or bathe
or even feed himself,
and how he’s told the court
he does not prefer a hospital
to Taloja Jail; he prefers
to suffer and die in prison—
or to go home:
Whatever happens to me, 
I’d like to be with my own.’
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Unshakeable

  -Christmas Eve, 2020

Tonight in Taloja Central Jail,
Father Stan Swamy shakes 
but also rejoices;

he knows that soon enough
carpenters, fishers and blunt 
speaking women

will join others who labour—
in fields and factories,
forests and homes—

and that all those who hunger 
will be satisfied,

and our weeping 
will turn to laughter.
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