Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall

I
how many mirrors
has this morning hung
everywhere I see my soul

II
like mirror shards
the morning dew falls
suddenly a thousand skies

III
my grandmother’s mirror
photoshopping my image
with her soft eyes

IV
somedays the mirror
stretches a hand
to catch a falling tear

V
between me and the mirror
seven steps
seven presumptions

VI
the sky is our mirror
you see the falling stars
I am bewitched by the moon

VII
empty mirror
how much did I lose of myself
leaving you

VIII
free,
the way we looked
before there were mirrors

IX
hidden behind the mirror
all those reflections
before this

X
today the mirror
casts three reflections
asking me to choose

XI
in his rearview mirror
he brings home
the waxing moon

XII
then what saved Narcissus?
a ripple?
a tear?

XIII
three blackbirds
flying past the mirror
six pause

495px-narcissus-caravaggio_1594-96_edited
For Dverse Poets, inspired by ‘Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird’ by Wallace Stevens.  My attempt is – Thirteen Ways of Looking in a Mirror. The blackbird reference is my tribute to his fabulous contemplation.

Could’ve Been So Easy

in shallow concrete recesses,
forfeited by the morning sun,
strutting on sills and railings,
he coos to his pigeon brood,
a clamouring assonance
permeating the hot air,
as they drop like grey leaves
around a fistful of scattered grain;

I wonder if he knows glass from steel,
if he can tell spice from herb,
poised on the ledge, on the edge,
trading secrets,
with the lady from 2B,
or that couple from 16A,
breathing our air,
living our lives,
he carries my heart on ashen wings,
the canopy, a nameless memory;

way above is the last palisade,
beyond it the open blue,
only once I saw him fly up to that gate,
to watch the eagles floating
on ever rising waves,
the fear heavy in his bones,
his voice bare, only once,
his wings brushing the cheek of freedom,
it could’ve been so easy;

sometimes I see him steal a glance,
his breath catching mid song,
here he learnt to walk on asphalt,
lord of the dark urban morass,
but that unmarked vastness
with the soaring wings,
feathers tumbling along unmarked trails,
an azure cage from which
there was no escape;

my heart snared in his trembling claws,
trading secrets, living our lives,
tumbling along blue unmarked trails,
love, it could’ve been so easy.

For the midweek prompt at Poets United: Caged and Free

Late September

Late September,
her eyes still a solemn slate,
the last of the monsoon strung
in reluctant beads down her long, damp hair,
she is a song, a tune in another language,
playing on the radio
as you drive by,
two strange words and a hum
stuck firmly in your swaying head;

this city is listless, drifting,
as she dreams of the faraway,
stories the wind tells her, of leaves
that are turning brown and gold,
that fall like tears of the cooling sun,
only the gulmohars like drops of blood
against a dissolving sigh,
whisper the fervent promise
of an exiled lover;

she undrapes her saree
and lets the fragrant oils
seep under her skin,
as the woodsmoke swirls,
they will want her to be beautiful,
anointed in sandal paste and
attar of roses,
the sightless skies
bowing low
to inhale her scent;

somewhere it is already dawn,
and dead leaves
are curling into the growing cold,
here she waits
like a veiled bride
in her nuptial chamber,
soon the celebrations will begin,
good will vanquish evil
all over again,
in the lick of oil lamps and fireworks,
it is late September;

she lays her head down
on a bed of soft, whispering leaves,
silk rustling on the tenuous edge
of night and day,
the wind is talking again,
the taste of fire in its nuzzling breath,
she turns away, her frown
creasing the gathering dark,
there was a song, faraway,
about the naked trees,
a tune, a hum
and two unfamilar fallen words.

When all poetry seems filled with the hues of autumn, here, far away from that transition, it is almost the end of the monsoon and the festive season will bring with it next month, the colours of Dusshera and Diwali.

At Nanyuki

At Nanyuki,
the equator runs below my feet,
and I think there must be a seam,
six lines of coarse stitches,
like a cricket ball,
holding the halves together,
but over asphalt and tamed bush,
through outlines of bare acacia trees,
there are smiles and tears,
and unspoken fears, Jambo,
he shouts into the cold wind;

cold like it was in Greenwich,
straddling the Meridian,
east and west like lovers meeting,
parting, daring old Kipling*,
somewhere here the silk roads ended
as oceans spilt secret routes
to gold paved streets
of yet another new world;

so many lines, to divide, to rule,
when we cannot command the whole,
drawing lines, against, across,
until there are tiny boxes,
matrix within matrix,
one for you, one for me,
the size of coffins,
our stories inside them,
double spaced in Arial 12;

and us, shackled,
bound in our cells,
marked and labelled,
toeing lines we cannot see,
splitting us, joining us,
but all we feel is the chill;
the air is cold here,
in our lonely rectangles,
like in Nanyuki,
where I stand,
where the equator cuts
the earth that has no seam.

* The Ballad of East and West, Rudyard Kipling

14 Sep 2016

From my other blog: Phantom Road.

Phantom Road

We have become so skeptical, Marcus, that everyday miracles hide from our incredulous eyes, their wonder unfolding in the dark corners that our scorn cannot bring itself to reach.

Then create your own miracles. Look what the sky does with just water and light. Every day. Every moment.

That’s science.

And that the sun now sets in your disbelieving eyes, here, in this moment, is…

A mathematical probability.

But what you choose to make of this melting orange fraction of time is your own private miracle.

trapped in an eddy
the breathless moon
watches itself spin

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