I saw the crumbling walls partake
In a tango with Death
Never to be fully alive again
But never short of breath.

The gold plated pillars of the Basilica echoed
With the voices of the faithful
But the real prayer rose from the shush of the garden,
the blooming trees eternally grateful

For they were yet to be felled as their kin had been
to make way for casinos and resorts
where the trees are of a different pedigree,
always trimmed and shaped, ready to greet foreign passports.

An old man selling trinkets, pulled me aside
showed me rosaries and garlands from all over the nation
Can you blame him for taking part
in an ancient trade, the business of religion?

The museum displayed its wares, the stories
In granite, polished and taken,
Its makers long dead, their lives a prelude
To a fugue of events lost and forgotten.

In Altinho the roads twisted and turned,
framed by mansions, each with a magnificient balcao
‘This land that once was ours, now beyond our reach,’
thinks the boy pushing along his cart full of pao

I heard the locals sigh with relief
‘Off-season at last, the party animals won’t be back till December
Now it’s time to welcome the monsoon
let’s hope climate change doesn’t frown on us till September’

The lakes, the waterfalls, the little spaces
that act as escapades for animal and man alike
from the monstrosity of globalization, the new mall
a new eyesore, like a head stuck on a pike

Bicholim, Sanguem, they’re untouched, they say,
no tourists, no drugs, peace and quiet they say
but little did they expect visitors in the form of giant red gashes
the hills torn open for iron because who can make do with clay

Off season for the whites, in-season for the browns, from the concrete cages
of Mumbai and Delhi, with their aviators and chubby brats in tow
they arrive armed with their selfie sticks
‘If you haven’t clubbed at Cabana then what do you know’

‘I studied in Miramar’ he says, ‘I grew up in Sanquelim’,
the tremble in his voice betraying the thoughts he would not name
‘There were no ugly buildings here in my childhood, no garbage.’
‘Some say it’s the tourists but I say we’ve only got ourselves to blame.’

Maybe it’s time you stopped and looked
at the prostitution of Miranda’s art,
or the exploitation of the old world charms,
at the way this land has been made to sell its every part

Maybe you’ll see the wounded land partake
in a tango with Death
Never to be fully alive again
but never short of breath.

Houses of Goa, Porvorim