At long last, we are catching up
With the pioneers who made
Of America what it is—
We are digging for gold.
Full two centuries behind,
But, what the hell, with some
Thousand tons of the yellow metal
In hand, we stand to forge
Ahead of all humankind.
But here be the catch: already
Thousands await to pitch their
Stake around the site; so will
The booty go to the fastest gun,
The smartest cop, the local politician,
The ancestral claimant, the sadhu
Maharaj who first dreamt of it all,
Or will the powers-that-be in Delhi
Pull off a legal coup, fill the federal coffers,
And make gestures to whoever offers
To make of the prize a golden
City of warriors and deities, of
Puissant men recalling heroic
Days of old when pity had no place,
But conquest alone graced the race?
Surely, gold must not be wasted
On feeding the urchin, healing the
Wound, schooling the mind, bringing
Water to the thirsty throat, sheltering
The destitute, putting nameless
Hands to work, or building monuments
To peace, friendship, togetherness.
The thing is so ancient and so simple:
Gold belongs to the gods in the temple,
And to the twice-born men who
On their behalf dispense salvation
To the prosperous half.
Once there, all sins are at an end,
If only the hoi polloi learn to bend
With alacrity and obedient consent,
Without raised eyebrow or argument.
After all, that is how gold was used
In the Americas; so what be our
Partnership if our courses with
Respect to gold are not fused?