The Stare

The Stare

There is that moment
when the young human child
at the young monkey child
who stares back -

Innocence facing
innocence in a space
where the young monkey child
is not in captivity.

There is purity
there is a transparence
in this stare
which lasts a long time...

eyes of water
eyes of sky
the soul can still fall through
because the monkey
has yet to learn fear
and the human
has yet to learn fear -
let alone arrogance.

Witnessing it all
one can count eyelashes
one can count the snails
in the grass
while waiting
for eyes to blink
waiting to see who
will look away first.

Still the monkey looks
at the human not in the same way
he would look at leaves
or at his own siblings.

And the human looks
at the monkey knowing
this is some totally other being.

And yet, there is such good will
such curiosity brightening
their faces.

I would like to slip inside
that stare, to know
what the human child thinks
what the monkey child thinks
at that very moment.

Remember, the human child
is at that age
when he begins to use words
with power
but without the distance
of alphabets, of abstractions.

Mention bread
and he wants
a slice, buttered and with honey -

Mention the cat
and he runs over
to awaken her.

The word
is the thing itself.

Language is simply
a necessary music
suddenly connected
to the child's own heartbeat.

While the young monkey child
grows at a different rate,
looks at a tree, a bush,
at the human child
and thinks...
Who knows what?

What remains burning
is that moment
of staring:
the two newly formed heads
balanced on fragile necks
tilting towards each other,
the monkey face
and the human face
absorbing each other
with intense gentleness....

from Monkey Shadows (Carcanet, 1991) copyright © Sujata Bhatt 1991, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

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1A Different History

2What Is Worth Knowing?

3Search For My Tongue

4The Stare

5Nanabhai Bhatt in Prison

6Walking Across the Brooklyn Bridge, July 1990

7The Need to Recall the Journey

8The One Who Goes Away

9How Far East is it Still East?

10Cow's Skull - Red, White and Blue


12The Stinking Rose

13If You Named Your Daughter Garlic Instead of Lily or Rose

14The Voices

15Point No Point

16The Snake Catcher Speaks

17The Fox and the Angel

18The Circle

19The Multicultural Poem

20Self-Portrait with Coppery Red Hair

21No Road Leads to This

22In Her Green Dress, She is

23A Colour for Solitude

24Self-Portrait with Yellowish Green

25Two Girls: Nude, One Standing, the Other Kneeling in Front of Red Poppies

26Self-Portrait with a Sprig of Camellia Leaves

27And What Will Death Do?