Winds of winter blow, venting cold and snow;
Playing mind games, I run to a better sun
To bask in shorter beams and screen exotic scenes.
The art of such enabling streaks me to Agra
And Shah Jahan's Taj Mahal, a world-wonder feat;
An ethereal fairyland, dual in a reflecting pool.
Shimmering in the glow of a midnight moon,
Surreal spires stretch toward starlight to team
With its larger cousin to brighten and dispel gloom.
The marvel of marble, brilliant white in sunlight
With a quartet of minarets and a dome, a graceful cover
Marking royal love for a passed wife and lover.
North to Delhi, it's mostly the unfortunate who sally forth
Into a mid-day furnace and sizzling streets; the risk
Of sunstroke; blister pain, the rake of floods from monsoon rains.
Those with common sense seek moderate air and incense
And slip into a shop equipped with indolent fans for tea--
Or rendezvous with a book under a leafy tree.
The liberty bell is rung, the yellow eye blinks to blackish ink,
Sprinkled with twinkles of flames of dung fires to heat
Worker meals of chapatis and chai--seldom meat.
When the plains grow dry and dusty and bake,
Cooling heads motor up on meandering cutbacks for Dal Lake
And Kashmir heights to appropriate a pristine sanctuary.
From a filigreed houseboat a water print reflects off the lake,
Framing Himalayan profiles against blue sky of snowpeaks
While merchants cruise nigh to hawk crafts of brass and teak.
They bargain over gunwhales of roving markets that float
From art and inventories heaped in small boats,
Abandoning smaller vessels to invade our mother ship for sales.
Minimal busy-ness is visible on nestling slopes and vales:
Animals ruminate; horses with riders plod along trails;
Trekkers amble across a glacier, rising in a valley blessed by nature.
Within are jewels of the setting: A few golfers strolling lush
Fairways; A Swiss-style hotel, homes perched on hillsides;
Goats munch unhurried, fattening for curries fit for a rajah's lunch.