Batu Caves

Alan Gould

A god is dancing on five cobra heads
long-haired, fine-featured as a woman.
Above and round him limestone beads
to a nib of water, writing a slower tune
to this animate-poise. We come here, out
of step with both, worshipping in the Year
of the Snake the gods of speed and the fate
of utensils. Listen! Neanderthal was here,
his swirling fire smoke making sacral these limestone
columns, his burial chants echoing
through this dark entail of the Malayan
peninsula, of worship and elaborations
speaking. The tourist chat provides the inkling.
The Planner? Perhaps a mote that swims on the aeons.

Batu Caves, on the northern edge of Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur, is a complex of Hindu temples, statues and caves. It is one of the holiest Hindu sites outside India.