We go to a party mainly of Indian diplomats.
The counterterrorism specialist writes poetry.
The cultural attaché plays bridge.
The Chinese waiter pours and pours.
The Baba becomes our topic. To a skeptic
he produced a miracle involving a handkerchief
whose four corners acquired the odors
of the four different flowers
the skeptic sequentially imagined.
On his way home the skeptic pulled out the kerchief
and asked his rickshaw-person to smell
and he smelled the four flowers,
but couldn’t name the fourth,
a rare orchid the skeptic himself had smelled just once.
Vikram mentions his visit to another spiritualist,
who knew things she couldn’t have known.
He knows he can’t explain it.
The Ambassador to Uzbekistan, here on a holiday,
asks why the Baba rides in a new Rolls,
produces rings from thin air
to befuddle his well-educated critics,
and does nothing for the poor.
We’re all reasonable people, Horatios to our toenails.
The Baba might ask, If all the poor had gold rings
would they stop being poor?
Before long we turn to politics –
education – language – math –
the raw diet – since after all
being puzzled is quickly tiresome
and the food wonderful
as any anodyne.