A door bangs shut. Something has entered. Or departed. What was, no longer is. What is, was not, a moment ago. Whatever has changed, has changed forever. And that door is firmly closed now. Who knows if it will ever open again. Who knows how long it had been shut. Who knows if it was open long enough for a paradigm to shift.
Were you present in that moment? Were you observer? Or bookkeeper? Did you enter? Did you leave? Were you the idea that was transformed? Or were you the door, open for a while to movement and now locked and bolted so the September wind knocks, waits, sighs and blows away, the wet footprints on the threshold, a fleeting clue, slowly unpainted by a placid sun.
sound of thunder
sky giving way
I feed on the cold like a beast at the water’s
edge, head bowed to an existential compulsion.
The chill traces a dark path to a primal hunger
that predates the sun. Predates skin. Predates
touch. That November mist is the shifting circle of
my want, intersecting the unmanifest moon in a
contemptuous Venn diagram — a chiaroscuro of
shivering deprivation. But, I will not switch my fealty
to fire. I need this wintry balm, the numbness that
burns inwards from the extremities. If this is dissent,
then I dare heat to make its move. If this is revolt,
then mercury will never rise again. For now, my
blood is frozen. For now, light is an unformed candle
in the guilty sky. For now, warmth is absence, warmth
is malevolent myth, warmth is icy premonition.
In Bangalore, where the fish used to leap
in countless lakes — where I am, where
I walk, was once water — where the future
is, was once water — and it sinks, as surely
as the concrete rises from the reinforced
burden of ten million clamours. In Bangalore,
I cross places off a list, places like Okjökull
(that melted away), Brazil (where the
Amazon burns), Cua Dai (where the sea is
rising over the sand), the Barrier Reef (where
the ocean warms and coral dies), Cocos
island (where plastic washes up by the ton),
the Savannah (where the rhinos used to roam)
— my great grandfather never left his village,
never heard of Washington D.C (where the
climate does not change), he never saw a glacier
or a rainforest, never boarded an aeroplane
or a big ship, but on his bucket list there was
one place a stranger told him about — Bangalore,
glorious queen of towns, with the cool skies and
countless lakes, where the birds sang and
flowers paved the roads, with the jackfruit
groves and the laundered air, where the future
soared and the stars hung low, Bangalore
(where the climate would never change).
The plaque bears the inscription “A letter to the future” and reads: “In the next 200 years all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path. This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it,”
Sometimes a word or two would
break the surface, a hoarse ripple,
as if a frog had sighed in a dream
or a fish had stretched and yawned
and then the water would straighten
its creases, the silence separating
us, sometimes, fusing our bodies into
one, the muzzled light opening and
closing wounds like a flautist on
a distant stage. There wasn’t that
much left to say. Not that night. Not
in that place. Not with words, anyway.
Mountain Lake: Salvador Dali, 1938
Re-organized my blog and this collection of haiku I put together three years ago, now has its own page.
Thought I’d put it out there, in case you didn’t see it earlier – tucked away in a cluttered sidebar.
The page has a feedback option as well, so do share your thoughts – on the collection, on haiku, on Basho, on travel, on life!
And we sign up for the tour of the museum
of horrors. Expertly curated, the brochure
invites — the special exhibits are ravaged
war zones, starving children, the burning
taiga, the occupied territories, the eroded
beaches, the nameless prisons, the extinct
species, the endless lines of humans fleeing
one hell for another. We grab our audio
guides and wait to be told what we should
see. How we should see what we think we
see. Leave your belongings at the gate, a
disinterested voice directs, as we stuff the last
of our humanity in a locker and enter, cokes
and burgers clutched to our chests, the water
rising above our ankles, the plastic key card
choking the universe through our lined pockets.
For the midweek prompt at Poets United: ‘Museum’
Water to Water – on Amazon
Have you noticed how conversations on aging, mortality and their peripheral existential conundrums elicit the most incongruous responses? In the last month, I’ve heard how age is just a number, how 50 is the new 30, how I now have the ‘wisdom’ I always wanted, how grey is the new black, how the time is now ripe to ‘pursue my passion’ and how growing old is liberating, especially for a woman! I hoped my reaction to such collective enthusiasm would be nuanced – ranging from an eye roll to a shrug – instead, of course, I found new variations between animated defence and argumentative disgust. Not quite in the ‘wisdom I always wanted’ category, clearly! Truth is, everyone marks a milestone in their own way. There’s always something to celebrate, much to ponder, perhaps to regret, even to silently fear. Some find equanimity and grace, some find wild abandon, some find courage, some find love, some walk away, some find excuses, some discover new challenges to overcome – some write poems.
the more I learn
the more I know
about things I will never know
I am writing a set of 10 poems on turning 50 that I will be ready to send out pretty soon. They won’t be posted on this blog but if you’d like me to send you a copy of the PDF, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org