A Different History
Great Pan is not dead;
he simply emigrated
Here, the gods roam freely,
disguised as snakes or monkeys;
every tree is sacred
and it is a sin
to be rude to a book.
It is a sin to shove a book aside
with your foot,
a sin to slam books down
hard on the table,
a sin to toss one carelessly
across a room.
You must learn how to turn the pages gently
without disturbing Sarasvati,
without offending the tree
from whose wood the paper was made.
has not been the oppressor’s tongue?
truly meant to murder someone?
And how does it happen
that after the torture,
after the soul has been cropped
with a long scythe swooping out
of the conqueror’s face –
the unborn grandchildren
grow to love that strange language.
Pan] the Ancient Greek God of Nature, part-man, part-goat
Sarasvati] the Hindu goddess of the arts